On-line interview with Richard Paxman
Q: Your father had a beer cooling business, many years ago, so I’m really fascinated by your family story. How did that business evolve into a hair cooling device?
A: It was actually my grandfather who had a beer cooling business, the original Paxman Coolers ltd, in fact he invented the first ice bank beer cooler in the 50’s. My father had an engineering business as well as a company supplying in to the drinks industry. The link of course is being experts in being able to cool. Following my mum’s distress when losing her hair my dad was determined to do something about it for other patients. Using his family experience and knowledge along with his brother Neil, he created our first scalp cooling prototype later in the 90s, and eventually Paxman Coolers Ltd the medical device company was born.
Q: You sadly lost your mum to cancer in 2020 and I believe she used a ‘cold-cap’ then, how does it differ from the one you produce now?
A: Mum died in 2000, after a number of years of battling with cancer. She did use a cold cap as she was concerned about hair loss. Unfortunately it didn’t work for mum and that was what gave my dad the inspiration and passion to develop something that hopefully would for others. The most important difference was thermoregulation, the control of the temperature was key. The device itself and the cooling caps have been improved since and we continue to invest heavily in to R & D with a hope that one day all patients will keep their hair with our device, we really are Chasing Zero Hair Loss.
Q: Are these caps tailor-made for each person or can they be easily adapted to fit all shapes and sizes?
A: The caps are not tailor-made or fully personalised for each patient however that is where we want to be in the future. We have 6 sizes of caps and the cap covers help adapt to each head shape. 3 caps for Caucasian heads and 3 caps for Asian heads. We continue to work hard to find the perfect solution.
Q: I believe you are based in Huddersfield, is this where most of your scientific testing is done?
A: We are indeed based in Huddersfield, a place my family and colleagues are passionate about. All of our scientific testing and the majority of product development is done here either internally or with the University of Huddersfield. We also have relationships with a silicone manufacturer in the UK and the University of Singapore for a device looking at chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN). Our clinical testing is done in many countries around the world with partnerships with some of the world’s best cancer centres.
Q: Is your system available on the NHS? If so, what is the protocol for patients if they are interested in using a Paxman cold cap?
A: It certainly is. It is now available in about 98% of the NHS and offered more and more regularly on a routine basis. It should be offered to a patient if they are eligible. Eligible patient are any patient with a solid tumour cancer who is having an alopecia causing
chemotherapy. If it is not offered you should ask your physician. It may be that your specific cancer or chemotherapy means you would not be offered scalp cooling. If unsure we are always happy to speak with patients directly here at Paxman too. We have a great new supportive website as well, www.coldcap.com as well as a fantastic Facebook closed group for patient to patient learning and support.
Q: Is it possible to rent one?
A: It is possible to rent one but most places in the UK now offer it so it should be unlikely you need to. You can also have chemo and scalp cooling at home through home healthcare providers.
Q: In the USA are patients able to claim on their insurance? And again, is there a rental scheme?
A: It is currently a self pay option for patients in the USA however we are working hard with commercial and government payers to change this. We have seen a number of patients been successful with their insurance companies but more work has to be done. This is a major investment of Paxman at present. For those that cannot afford, we do have support for them throughout the USA.
Q: Does your system work as efficiently with all the different chemotherapy drugs or are there different results for the different regimes?
A: It varies depending on the type of dosage of chemotherapy. We have a great tool on our website now to help patient understand this.
Q: Does it work as well with the Taxanes?
A: It works best with taxanes, again depending on the dosage and combination.
Q: Is there any evidence that scalp cooling can cause scalp/follicle metastasis?
A: There is no evidence to support this. The large amounts of retrospective data and meta-analysis supports that there is no increases risk of scalp metastasis with scalp cooling which supports its use globally.
Q: Do you think it is possible that the research team you work with at Huddersfield Uni will develop something to reverse permanent hair loss that has been caused by chemotherapy? Has it ever been a subject of discussion?
A: I believe we are experts in preventing hair loss and being honest we have spent very little time on looking at the reversal of PCIA. However, we have a fantastic relationship with the scientists at the university and the more we understand about the hair follicle the more we may have insight in the future which could lead to work on looking at PCIA in more detail. We understand this is such an important research question.
Q: What is next for the Paxman family business? Are you working on any other devices, such as cooling mitts?
A: We are indeed working on a miniaturised cooling device for the prevention of peripheral neuropathy with the University of Singapore. In addition we have projects looking at a topical product to support the reduction of CIA in patients as well as personalised cooling caps. Our aim is to do better than we are now. We are continually improving what we do, from patient support to technical advances in our product. We will not stand still. I struggle with the fact our product does not work for everyone and we must change that.
Q: I know you travel all over the world, Rich, so what other countries are on the horizon for you?
A: I did travel the world until March but looking forward to getting out to see our partners again. We shall continue to focus on the USA however more effort will be place in Asia in the coming years.
Q: How is the current Covid-19 situation affecting your business, if at all?
A: I do not think there is a business in the World that has not been affected by the pandemic, good or bad. It has of course caused a slowdown in demand for our equipment but we understand this is temporary. We have put important things in place to protect our employees, patients and stakeholders primarily from a health perspective but also to ensure financial stability and resilience to ensure we come out of this even stronger. We have really embraced the digital world too. For me, although this has been very difficult for many, in many way, it allows us to understand what is important in life, and we as people and a company have learnt lots and adapting in many ways, many for the better. I see there are many silvers linings which we must hold on to in the difficult times.
Q: Tell us about your website? I believe you have a new addition to it and have ambassadors? Can you tell us a little about this and what do people have to do if they are interested in becoming one?
A: We love our new website and have had some excellent feedback so far. It is patient focused website. The main focus is to provide a really supportive place for our patients from diagnosis through to completion of treatment, and hold their hand along the way digitally. It provides tools to help make an informed decision, tutorials for choosing the right cap, hair preparation and fitting the cap on the day of treatment as well as hair care advice in addition to our new blog.
Our ambassador or pioneer program is not new but has become an even more important part of what we do. Peer to peer learning and experience is invaluable. If a patient is interested they can register their interest on our website. We love hearing from patients and I would encourage people to contact us as really helps others.
Richard can also be contacted directly on