Magnetic pen inventor says Health Canada could cost him $100K

Waterloo, Ont., entrepreneur Andrew Gardner raised almost a million dollars on the crowdsourcing website Kickstarter to manufacture his magnetic pen invention, but Health Canada has issued a cease and desist order over health concerns.

Swallowing small magnets 'can be life-threatening,' says Health Canada letter to Andrew Gardner

Andrew Gardner, the Waterloo, Ont. entrepreneur behind the magnetic Polar Pen, says he stands to lose around $100,000 after a cease and desist order from Health Canada.

Gardner, 27, invented the segmented pen, which is made with strong rare earth magnets. He raised almost $1 million to manufacture the pen through the crowdsourcing website Kickstarter

Now Health Canada has issued a cease and desist order on Gardner's pen, based on what the federal agency says are health concerns about the small magnets.

"I stand to personally lose a hundred thousand dollars. And that's not business money, so it's not like my business will be out a hundred thousand dollars worth of sales, like we will go into debt a hundred thousand dollars," said Gardner.

Gardner had already invested money to mass produce the pen.

"We've pushed forward to start manufacturing here in Waterloo. So now we have basically a hundred thousand dollars invested into producing products for people that have bought it and now we feel we will probably have to [give them a] refund."  

Gardner says he'll likely have to refund the about $1 million total earned through Kickstarter. 

In a letter, Health Canada wrote that the magnets can be harmful and even deadly if swallowed by children. 

"The results of swallowing small powerful magnets can be very serious and life-threatening," the letter said. "Swallowing incidents have often resulted in considerable damage to the gastrointestinal tissues and required emergency surgical treatment and extended hospitalization. For survivors, there can be serious long-term health consequences."

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