Watch out, EpiPen. The makers of a recalled epinephrine-injection system plan to reintroduce a new and improved version of their life-saving injections in the first half of 2017 and promise it will be affordable to allergy sufferers even if they don’t have health insurance.
Twin brothers Eric and Evan Edwards invented the Auvi-Q epinephrine injection device and licensed it to the drug giant Sanofi, which launched the product in 2013 but withdrew it last October when it learned of rare cases in which the syringe failed to deliver the proper drug amount.
Now, the Edwards’ brothers say the new Auvi-Q, made by their company Kaleo, will cost substantially less than the EpiPen made by Mylan Pharmaceuticals, which jacked up the price of its pens to more than $600 from just $100 in 2009 . Mylan has been under fire lately for those price hikes, which occurred alongside CEO Heather Bresch’s colossal pay raises and an alleged company scheme to overcharge Medicaid.
But a lower cost isn’t the only advantage the Auvi-Q will have over the EpiPen; its credit-card size will be much more compact than the EpiPen, its retractable needle will not be visible to the patient, and it will instruct users with a recorded voice about its proper usage – a feature that could help panicked parents and others administer the drug.
“It is not in the best interest of patients or physicians to have high out-of-pocket costs,” Spencer Williamson, President and CEO of Kaleo, told Forbes. “We’re engaging with all of the stakeholders – wholesalers and pharmacy benefits managers – to insure that we can provide this innovative technology to patients and that they can afford it. And we are going to assure that the out-of-pocket is going to be low for patients.”
Eric Edwards, a doctor, and Evan, an engineer, invented the Auvi-Q because they suffer from severe allergies to eggs, shellfish, and nuts, and they wanted a better, easier-to-use epinephrine auto-injector than the ones available.
“This is personal for us,” Eric Edwards told Forbes. “I’m a patient who may have to respond with this product not only for myself but for my child, and we are committed to making sure that Auvi-Q is going to work during an allergic emergency.”