Auvi-Q auto-injector offers affordable alternative to EpiPen


photo by Daphne Kaplan

Freshman Sami Himmelfarb holds her Auvi-Q injector. Unlike an EpiPen, the Auvi-Q includes an automated voice to walk the individual through the lifesaving procedure.

Daphne Kaplan, Guest Writer

When freshman Sami Himmelfarb went over to her family friend’s house one day in 2004 for dinner, she reacted with hives from peanut butter and immediately went to the doctor’s office. She was unaware her life was in danger.

After realizing her life could be in jeopardy from an allergic reaction, Himmelfarb was tested for nut allergies and received an EpiPen in order to control any further reactions. She ultimately switched over to Auvi-Q after learning about its benefits.

Auvi-Q is different than other epinephrine injectors, because it is both a drug and a device. The product’s automated voice talks patients through the injection process so they stay calm despite the rush of adrenaline they experience during a medical emergency.

“Auvi-Q’s are extremely user friendly,” Upper School nurse Margarita Payne said. “It walks you through the process to remain calm and is also more convenient. It can fit in your pocket and is the size of a deck of cards. It can fit in little wristlets that girls like to carry, so people are more inclined to carry more than an EpiPens which is bulky and that is the reason that Auvi-Qs were developed.”

Patients have tended to have fewer failed injections with Auvi-Qs because the needle comes out in the same place as the safety, causing fewer accidental injections. In contrast, it is common for someone injecting an allergy victim with the EpiPen to hold it upside down, causing them to inject themselves in the finger.

According to a University of Texas study in 2015, only 16 percent of those prescribed an epinephrine auto-injector were able to use it correctly when asked to do so. Of 102 patients, 86 patients made at least one mistake in the use of an auto-injector and more than half of those who were tested made three or four mistakes.

Despite Auvi-Q’s advantages, however, it is not as widely used as EpiPens. Earlier this year, Auvi-Qs were pulled off the market due to the problems with the dosage administered. This meant that EpiPen was the only life-saving auto-injector on the market, so they increased their prices.

In the early months of 2017, the EpiPen costed $600, yet the medicine itself only costs a few dollars. The generic EpiPen plans to decrease costs to about $300.

“I believe that EpiPen, a brand name took advantage of the fact that Auvi-Q was pulled off the market and decided to again, monopolize the market and make as much money as they could before Auvi-Q went back on the market, Payne said. “It was an opportunistic plan they ran.”

According to Payne, all students who have allergies should carry some sort of epinephrine auto-injector. Though she would not necessarily require all students to carry an Auvi-Q, she does strongly support the use of them.

Himmelfarb used the EpiPen until the Auvi-Q came out, but switched back to EpiPen when the Auvi-Q was taken off the market. Through her pharmacy, she found a program called, “Auvi-Q AffordAbility” where she could get Auvi-Qs for free.

Auvi-Q AffordAbility provides Auvi-Qs to commercially insured patients and requires zero dollars out of pocket. Auvi-Q AffordAbility’s mission is to offer support and medication for patients who cannot afford it and do not have government insurance.

“It was outrageously priced if you tried to get it through the pharmacy,” Lisa Himmelfarb, Sami’s mother said. “There was a program where you could go directly through Auvi Q, and they sent us four Auvi Q injectors at no cost. It was great. I think they tried to cut down the middle man.”

When Auvi-Q returned to the market in February of 2017, the company manufacture, Kaleo Pharma, ensured there would be two different ways to get an Auvi-Q injector for free. This program is helpful to those who cannot afford these life-saving auto-injectors and requires patients to be commercially-insured in order to get the injector for free.

“How could you price out something that would save your life?” Lisa said. “For many people, I feel bad for those who can’t afford it and use expired pens to drag it out the life of their EpiPens. I think that is what a lot of people were resorting to which is outrageous that the companies would resort that.”