By Patricia Canole

Medical science has made enormous strides over the years. Once unimaginable procedures like open-heart surgery and organ transplants are now commonplace. Crippling, oftenfatal diseases like polio and smallpox have been eradicated. The most recent miracle of modern medicine was the development of COVID vaccines with record speed, dramatically reducing deaths caused by the virus. However, one medical procedure virtually everyone experiences regularly has stayed the same since it was invented over 160 years ago: hypodermic needle injections.

Sure, there’s the “don’t fix it if it ain’t broke” argument, but one company, Milestone Scientific, saw room for improvement in the humble injection: making them virtually painless. So they’ve developed computer-controlled injection delivery instruments that provide painless and precise injections.

How does that impact your everyday life? First, let’s take the dentist. “In general terms, nobody likes to go to the dentist,” says CEO Jan Haverhals. In the U.S., he explains, about 40 million people are dental-phobic because of the procedure’s anxiety and pain. Usually, the dentist uses that very long, scary syringe, delivering the local anesthetic manually, which requires injecting as slowly as possible. Then, after approximately ten minutes, you’ll get another injection if you are not numb when the dentist returns. “That’s exactly what you do not want as a patient because you want to get out of that dental chair as soon as possible,” says Haverhals.  

With Milestone Scientific’s computerized drug delivery technology, the injection flow is very low, like an IV infusion, so you don’t feel the injection, which is virtually painless. In addition, it enables the dentist to inject a single tooth instead of the whole mouth, so you don’t have collateral numbness in the lips or swelling in the face. And the anesthesia kicks in in just 60 seconds, saving the dentist time—but more importantly, helping get you out of that dentist’s chair faster. A bonus for dental-phobes, especially children, is the needle used is much smaller than the hand-held versions, easing anxiety.

The good news is that Milestone Scientific’s computerized, pain-free injection technology has been widely used by dental practitioners worldwide for over two decades. So there’s a good chance you can find a dentist already utilizing the system. Today, the company is the leader in computer-controlled injection technology and is now expanding into larger medical markets such as anesthesiology; it has proven especially useful for epidural analgesia during labor and delivery.

In short, this technology is safer than the manual injections traditionally administered during labor. Instead of the relatively “subjective” nature of a person injecting medication, the technology is “objective,” eliminating false positive results, dura punctures, and reducing morbidity. “It takes the guesswork out of the epidural,” says Haverhals.

One challenge they face is changing the mindset of dental and medical professionals. They ask why they need to change procedures they’ve been using for 25 or 30 years. “The reason to change is to give the mother a better experience during labor and delivery than she currently has.” Technology is disruptive, so Haverhals tries to be disruptive in getting this message out. He liaises with groups over social media. “At the end of the day, we need to educate women planning an epidural, going into labor, or wanting to have kids.” By bringing this safe and effective process to the public’s attention, he hopes that people will ask for it if they go to the hospital or have an injection in their back. 

Haverhals joined Milestone Scientific, listed on the New York Stock Exchange (MLSS), in 2020 and has helmed the company for over a year. Born in the Netherlands, he studied pharmacy science and attended business school. He’s had broad experience in the dental and medical fields, including companies in Norway and Switzerland; he started his own company; and worked in the chemical industry for several years. He eventually landed in the U.S., where he met the founder of Milestone Scientific, Len Osser. “He was looking for his successor without me knowing that. And after 11 months with the company, he offered me the position of CEO, allowing him to retire.”

For more information on Milestone Scientific,
visit milestonescientific.com