AdrenaCard, Smaller, Less Costly Alternative to the EpiPen in Development
Before I leave the house each day, I always run through my checklist of items to bring with me. Keys? Cellphone? Lipgloss? Headphones? Wallet? EpiPen? Always. I never go anywhere without it, just in case the worst happens and my husband eats something that contains tree nuts or peanuts. Since we’ve been together there have been two incidents where he ate food containing nuts. We rushed to the hospital before any symptoms set in that required use of the EpiPen, and he was treated there.
While I love the security that having an EpiPen provides, it’s pretty bulky to carry around. I typically have a purse, so it’s not a huge deal for me, but for my husband who often attends concerts and bars without a bag, carrying a giant sharpie sized pen isn’t exactly easy, especially when it’s too big to fit in his pocket. We’re thankful that this medication exists, but I wish there was more innovation in the design of the autoinjector. There was hope with the Avui-Q which was much smaller than the EpiPen, however that came to a grinding halt when it was recalled last year due to incorrect dosages being deployed.
I found some interesting stats about the EpiPen from Life Science Nexus:
The EpiPen delivers a measured dose of epinephrine into the body.Â Epinephrine, also known as adrenaline, activates fight-or-flight response in the body, stimulates the heart, and increases blood flow to elevate breathing levels and relieve anaphylaxis symptoms long enough for a patient to get to a care center to receive further treatment.
Epinephrine is highly effective in temporarily relieving symptoms of anaphylaxis. The problem lies in the method of drug delivery. The EpiPen is bulky and highly inconvenient to carry. Of the 16 million people at risk for anaphylactic shock, less than 25% actually own an EpiPen or other auto-injector to deliver epinephrine. Less than 50% of this device-owning population carries the pen at all times, creating a 90% or 14.6M patient care gap.
While I’m happy to say that we carry the EpiPen 100% of the time, I was excited to read about the new AdrenaCard which is currently going through FDA testing. The new autoinjector is about twice the size of an average credit card, but it much smaller and thinner than the EpiPen. The card comes with a safety band. During an emergency, the person would pull the band off, place it against their leg and push, similar to a EpiPen. If all goes well with FDA testing, it will be on the market by 2018.
Life Science Nexus writes that in addition to size, The AdrenaCard team is also hoping to improve upon the currently price of the EpiPen, which is quite costly.
The AdrenaCard team of Tyler Ebert and Chris Kuehn set out to improve upon this standard of care while students at the University of Minnesota (UMN). Tyler Ebert was drawn to the UMN specifically to study entrepreneurship and has a background in restaurant development and food counseling.
As a food counselor at the university, people would often come to speak with him about their food allergies. Even though they realized the importance of the device, many would not have their auto-injector on them. Tyler dug into the details surrounding auto-injectors and discovered the high rate of non-compliance in device carrying and the massive market for auto-injectors. In 2014 alone the auto-injector market had $1.3B in sales and continues to grow.
The idea of an improved device to deliver epinephrine was compelling from a clinical, personal, and business perspective. Most importantly, Tyler wanted to improve the situation for these food allergy patients.
Tyler formed a partnership Chris Kuehn, who had logged time in medical device innovation at both Boston Scientific and Precision, Inc. AdrenaCard was born.What we created is a device that delivers the same life saving medication [as the EpiPen], with a form factor that is the size of a credit card, explains Tyler.
The slimmer, smaller size of the AdrenaCard auto-injector allows it to be easily carried in a pocket, wallet, or attached to a key chain, making the device more likely to be on hand in case of emergency.
I’ll be following the development of AdrenaCard, and in the meantime make sure to always have an EpiPen with me..just in case.