Pioneers in nasal and sinus care give back to the School of Medicine

May 31, 2018

Dr. and Ms. Mehta

Global medical leaders, Ketan Mehta, M.D., Res. '85, Fel. '87 and Nina Mehta '86 have revolutionized the at-home nasal and sinus care paradigm through their company, NeilMed Pharmaceuticals Inc. Dr. Mehta and Ms. Nina Mehta founded the company in 2000, and today their flagship products—the NeilMed SINUS RINSE and NeilMed Neti Pot—are among their 40 products sold all over the world. Both Dr. Mehta and Ms. Mehta are Wayne State University alumni, and they credit the university for part of their success.

"Wayne State provided a great learning experience for both of us. I think that we took away a sense of determination from the rigorous coursework and training we experienced at the university," Ms. Mehta said.

A two-time alumnus of the School of Medicine, Dr. Mehta completed his residency in Internal Medicine and then returned for a fellowship in Pulmonary and Critical Care. Ms. Mehta received a degree in Physical Therapy from the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences while Dr. Mehta was completing his specialty training.

"Going through the anatomy coursework and taking other courses related to the medical field really gave me a sense of how to talk to physicians when we first started NeilMed," Ms. Mehta recalled. "Both Dr. Mehta and I are proud of the education we received at Wayne State."

Such pride for the Wayne State University School of Medicine inspired Dr. Mehta and Ms. Mehta to establish the NeilMed Endowed Support Fund in the Department of Otolaryngology.

"As president of NeilMed, it has been extremely rewarding for me to see how our products have influenced millions of people nationwide and globally. Being so tied to Wayne State, we hope that our support will further the Otolaryngology Department's research in rhinology and provide new opportunities for residents," Ms. Mehta said.

Although NeilMed is now a successful, global enterprise, the company started in the back of Dr. Mehta's office.

"Dr. Mehta was practicing full time back then, and he was using nasal irrigation for his patients with respiratory problems. He saw success with this method, but at the time there was no effective device for this kind of sinus rinse. He came up with an idea: design a nozzle so that it fits the nose without actually going into it," Ms. Mehta explained. "The product worked. At first we supplied our products to small pharmacies and physicians, and after we had a compelling amount of evidence that the device worked, and it worked well, we took it to the retailers."

Since then, NeilMed has expanded to an international market, with offices in more than 10 countries and global distribution to more than 25.

"NeilMed shifted the paradigm of rhinitis and sinusitis, and it has changed the entire post-operative procedure for medical care in these areas," Dr. Mehta said.

A Family Legacy

The inspiration for the company's name came from their son, Neil, who was seven when the business was founded. A true namesake for NeilMed Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Neil is a medical student at the WSU School of Medicine, and he aspires to enter into the field of Rhinology. He joins his sister, Alisha, who is going into her third year of medical school also at Wayne State. With two of their three children at the School of Medicine, Dr. and Ms. Mehta have made frequent trips back to Detroit to visit.

"Many memories of Wayne State were revived when we came back for our daughter's white coat ceremony," Dr. Mehta said. "I am a very proud alum."

Dr. Mehta and Ms. Mehta are proud of their strong ties to the Wayne State University School of Medicine. They hope that their philanthropy will bolster the school's leading-edge research initiatives and encourage others to do the same. To learn more about how to give to the School of Medicine, contact Lori Robitaille at 313-993-4070 or lrobitai@med.wayne.edu.