ARA Blazes New Business Trail with FIVR Program
The Field Intravenous Fluid Reconstitution program saves lives by filling intravenous bags as needed at battlefield hospitals. Applied Research Associates' FIVR also saves money by prolonging IV bag shelf life, eliminating waste and simplifying logistics.
IV bags are an essential element in treating battlefield casualties. Currently, field hospitals stock large numbers of bags due to the logistic limitations on resupply and the necessity to be prepared for the worst: heavy casualties in a surge operation. Fortunately, heavy casualties seldom occur, resulting in most of those bags transported at great expense from the United States expiring before they ever get used.
What is now a major effort began as an after-hours adventure in 1999 when Dr. Lixiong Li and Dr. Jean Renard of ARA's Engineering Science Division in Florida identified a military need for compact systems to produce sterile water for injection also known as SWFI. They proposed a hydrothermal processing concept to produce SWFI more efficiently and effectively than the technologies available.
The Office of Naval Research funded the project through its Small Business Technology Transfer Program as the military had long been interested in filling IV bags in the field. The goal had been to develop compact SWFI generators for on-site reconstitution to save storage space and reduce deployment logistics. The first technical team dedicated its evenings and weekends for nearly five years to execute the project's first phase. They built a compact SWFI generator prototype and successfully demonstrated it to the U.S. Navy. The end of the Navy program resulted in successful designation of the SWFI system as a medical device, and then the program took a new direction when the Air Force opportunity arose.
In 2007, the U.S. Air Force decided to fund the development of FIVR for field hospitals. After successful completion of the FIVR Working Model Demonstration Phase in 2008, ARA won the option for the engineering and manufacturing phase. For two years ARA's FIVR team has been working on a manual FIVR Engineering Development Model and two prototypes for the Air Force. Along with this effort, the team recognized the Air Force's need for FIVR system automation.
The current FIVR team includes Program Manager Li and Deputy Manager Sheryl Calidonna as well as seven other team members who perform engineering, evaluation and quality assurance tasks to obtain FDA approval of FIVR as a medical device and approval of the IV products as drugs. The project also involves four subcontractors.
Once approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the FIVR technology may fill needs in both military and civilian markets, including opportunities in biotechnology and pharmaceutical research laboratories, isolated medical facilities, mobile medical units and emergency relief operations for natural disasters or terrorist attacks.