Monday, January 14, 2013

Auvi-Q is Coming Soon

So you thought epinephrine auto-injectors were all the same? That will soon change with Sanofi’s introduction of the Auvi-Q auto-injector. Sanofi invited me and a handful of food allergy bloggers to their North American Headquarters in Bridgewater, NJ, to give us a preview.

I met Keeley McGuire (Allergy Friendly Fun Lunchboxes), Selena Bluntzer (Amazing and Atopic), Joanne LaSpina (Food Allergy Assistant), and Henry Ehrlich (Asthma Allergies Children) for the first time in person, and I got to hang out my friends Jenny Sprague (Multiple Food Allergy Help), Caroline Moassessi (Grateful Foodie), and Susan Weissman (Feeding Eden). We had a great time!

From left to right: Joanne, Keeley, Caroline, Susan, Colette, Selena, Jenny, and Henry.

Before I tell you about the product, I must mention Mama’s Café Baci, who served us lunch. One of the best things about attending food allergy events is that I know I will be able to eat well, safely. The top-8 allergen-free lunch they served us was delicious. Now, about the product…

Sanofi expects to change the game with epinephrine auto-injectors. Gone are the awkward needles that have to be carried in special pouches – or at least Sanofi hopes so.

I had seen the press from the announcement late last year – with pictures – but what I saw in person surprised me. The Auvi-Q auto-injector is surprisingly small, and surprisingly tactile. It fits in your hand like the early flip phones (circa 2000) did. Sanofi’s product directors describe it as the size of a credit card and the width of a deck of cards, but I’m not sure that quite gets the point across, so here’s a picture of it in my hand:

And next to my iPhone 5:

Note that I am showing you the trainer – which has a black label (and is both clearly labeled and tells you that it contains no medication – more on that later). The auto-injectors with medication will be blue or red (depending on the dose), and hard to miss.

I’m a sucker for look and feel, and this just feels good. Sanofi spent a lot of time on user design, and it was worth it – the rounded edges feel good in your hand, and it will slip very easily into a purse (even a very tiny one), pocket, backpack – just like a small cell phone would.

Did I mention that it talks? As soon as you pull it out of it’s sleek case, the box starts talking. The calm female voice tells you to remove the red plastic cover and then walks you through the steps to administer the drug – it even counts to five for you. I think the talking feature will be a benefit for anyone who hasn’t used an epinephrine auto-injector before. The fact that you don’t see a needle (although they assured us there was one inside) is another big benefit. If the voice feature fails, there are printed instructions, and there’s no need to wait for the voice if you already know what to do.

You do need to pull fairly hard to remove the red cover that hides the needle, and you need to press it very firmly against your leg (it compresses about ¼ inch when you do so properly), but I don’t think this is any more difficult than plunging a needle into a thigh. Nevertheless, I think parents will want to make sure they practice with the children who will be carrying them.

My assessment is that this is a very cool gadget. In fact, so cool that some may want to play with it too much. It’s a good thing that Sanofi is planning to include a trainer with every prescription.

Should you get one? It’s the same medication as other epinephrine auto-injectors; the difference is in the delivery method of the drug. I think most will make the decision based on price and how much they are willing to pay for the “cool” device. Sanofi did not disclose their pricing.

The Auvi-Q auto-injectors are expected to be available by the end of March.

What do you think? Are you planning to make the switch?

Disclosure: Sanofi paid for my travel expenses to this event. I was not obligated to review the product.


Gratefulfoodie said...

Excellent blog post!!! Love that photo of the those good looking people. Heehee.

It was very exciting to be able to participate in the Auvi-Q Summit

Kathryn @ Mamacado said...

Looks really interesting, and hopefully will be useful to many. Although I'm sure it will take time for people to switch from the Epipen, which I'm guessing is the market leader.

As you mentioned, price will be a major factor. I'm eager to see the price difference between the Auvi-Q and the Epipen.

Thanks for the post Colette!

Kathryn @ Mamacado said...

PS - Please tell us what you had for lunch! I would LOVE to know what they served that was free of the top 8. Might be an inspiration for when we order out too. I'm impressed that a restaurant, no less and Italian restaurant (hello cheese!), could do this!

Colette said...

Kathryn, I wish I had taken a picture of the food! Gosh, there were so many choices. I remember a gluten-free pasta dish -- with tomato sauce but no cheese, a chicken dish in a light lemony sauce, what I think were rosemary potatoes, a green bean dish, another veggie dish with eggplant, tomatoes, and other veggies. There was another meat dish I think -- pork maybe. Salad, with no croutons and no cheese. Gosh there was more (and so much leftover too!) For dessert they had brownies and chocolate chip cookies -- the giant size.

Kathryn @ Mamacado said...

Wow, the food sounds great! What a dream to have all that allergy-friendly food in one place.