Interview: Tongue Cover could fundamentally change the way people take medicine
Haris Ayoubi is the inventor of the Tongue Cover, a protective latex barrier that shields the tongue from the unpleasant taste of liquid medicines. Ayoubi, who graduated with a Master of Business Administration in the US, opted for the entrepreneurial route after completing his studies and moved to Dubai where he developed the concept for the innovative device. Dental Tribune ONLINE spoke with Ayoubi about his invention.
Dental Tribune ONLINE: Mr Ayoubi, could you please tell us in more detail how the Tongue Cover works?
Haris Ayoubi: From a functional standpoint, you can think of the Tongue Cover as a condom for the tongue. Simply slip the Tongue Cover over your tongue, much like the way you would push your tongue into a ball of bubble gum right before blowing a bubble. Then take your medicine as usual. The salty, sweet and sour areas of your tongue that are most sensitive to the strong flavour of the medicine will be covered, allowing you to take your medicine without perceiving these tastes. And you don’t have to worry about the aftertaste of the medicine either. When you are done, simply remove and discard the Tongue Cover. We do not recommend reusing the Tongue Cover for hygiene and legal reasons.
Did you consult with dentists or other specialists when developing the device?
It’s taken a year to get to this point. After going back and forth during technical consultations with well-respected polymer engineers in the industry, ENT specialists and dentists, we resolved issues regarding the best material to use in terms of oral suitability, cost, mouldability and, of course, ease of availability.
Another significant ergonomic challenge was making the Tongue Cover easy to wear and discard. It had to be as simple as using alcohol pads or plasters. Finally, finding a manufacturer with the necessary research and development facilities, hospital-grade standards of disinfection and requisite prototyping skills was imperative.
We have considered alternative materials to latex for later production iterations. If we are able to raise the required funds, we will place first priority on producing a child-size Tongue Cover, and later diversify into alternative materials. The market for both is huge.
Do you think that the Tongue Cover could revolutionise the oral intake of medicine in the future?
Absolutely! We have filed a utility patent for it. Dr Mohammad Waseem-ul-Islam, a former advisor to the World Health Organization’s Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean, has called the Tongue Cover a socially impacting product that could fundamentally change the way billions of people take medicine. At this point, we are networking with early adopters—pharmacies, medical supply stores and hospitals that have shown great interest in retailing our product. We ultimately hope to gain the attention of pharmaceutical companies that could make the Tongue Cover the de facto standard and pre-package it along with liquid medicines by default, particularly for very bitter medicines. In this way, truly ubiquitous distribution of the product would be seen across the globe and this would result in widespread adoption. However, realising the product’s full potential will probably take some more time.
Where can consumers order Tongue Covers?
Right now, we are looking to partner with distributors to make the product available at pharmacies worldwide. We intend to launch the Tongue Cover in the Middle East initially and then expand to the North American and European markets in the near future. We can, of course, be contacted via our website, www.tonguecover.com.