Friday, March 1, 2013

Auvi-Q; An Alternative to the EpiPen

Persons with potentially life-threatening allergic reactions to specific allergens (such as bee stings or certain foods) are told to carry an epinephrine auto-injector with them at all times.  A typical epinephrine auto-injector (such as an EpiPen) is a device about 5 ½ inches in length by one inch in diameter containing a single dose of injectable epinephrine.  When an allergic reaction occurs, the user is supposed to inject the epinephrine into his/her thigh as soon as possible.  I carried an EpiPen myself for a time, after I suffered a severe allergic reaction to multiple stings by ground-dwelling yellow jacket wasps.  But as time went by I stopped carrying it because it just didn’t seem necessary, and because carrying it every day was inconvenient.  Fortunately, I’ve never had another severe allergic reaction like that first one.  But what if I did?

Now there’s an alternative, called Auvi-Q.  Auvi-Q is still just a single dose of injectable epinephrine.  But Auvi-Q is shaped entirely differently; it’s about the length and width of a credit card and the width of a smart-phone.  The manufacturer hopes that it will appeal to the younger generation used to carrying credit/debit cards and phones.  More importantly, once the cover is removed Auvi-Q talks the user through the entire process of injection with a soothing human voice. (To hear the instructions, view the video on the Auvi-Q website.)  The verbal instructions may be helpful to some users and caregivers, since it may be years before the device is needed and one could forget how to use the device in that time.

The maker of Auvi-Q hopes that younger persons will find the device “cool”, and so perhaps they’ll be more willing to carry it than the EpiPen.  (The manufacturer of the EpiPen takes issue with an Auvi-Q marketing claim that 2/3 of EpiPen users don’t actually carry their EpiPen with them.)  Time will tell whether Auvi-Q is different enough to find a place in the competitive epinephrine auto-injector market.

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