MedTech startup Alerje uses patient design to create allergy medicine device
Alerje Founder Javier Evelyn understands food allergens all too well. In fact, Javier is allergic to pistachios, cashews, fish and casein. Food allergies affects millions of Americans each year. Most food allergens are common among young children.
Food allergy management for most individuals can be challenging at times, especially for young children and parents who are unaware of their child’s symptoms.
You may be wondering “how hard is it to avoid eating foods that causes allergic reactions? While most adults and parents with children who have food allergies avoid eating allergy-triggering foods, it can still be difficult to navigate through menu items and dishes. Not all food items are labeled properly and cross contamination in food preparation is quite common in restaurants.
What is a food allergy?
Food allergy is a serious and potentially life-threatening medical condition affecting 32 million Americans. One in every 13 children has a food allergy. And every 3 minutes, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room.
A food allergy reaction occurs when your immune system overreacts to a food or a substance in food, triggering a “protective response”. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, including anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening reaction that can impair your breathing, blood pressure and heart rate. 90 percent of reactions are caused by the following foods:
Anaphylaxis requires immediate medical treatment, including an injection of epinephrine. Epinephrine is an injection-based medication used to treat life-threatening allergic reactions.
Epinephrine reverses the action of substances produced during the allergic reaction. It can also prevent the body from going into shock.
Alerje’s latest design is a smartphone case that includes a slim epinephrine auto-injector. This patient design smartphone case, was redesigned to hold the Epinephrine auto-injector. The auto-injector can be easily removed from the phone case in the event of an emergency.
Why a smartphone?
Most people do not leave home without their smartphones. Users usually keep their smart devices with them regularly which makes it easier to access in case of an emergency. When the Epinephrine mechanism is removed, the device alerts parents, spouses, and 911 during food allergy emergencies.
"Historically, I've never carried an EpiPen," Evelyn said. "I always get the finger wag from family and friends, but they are costly and clunky. So I set out to change that and the most ubiquitous device is the smartphone. Most people never leave home without it."
Photo Credit: LinkedIn
Photographed: Javier Evelyn
The worldwide market for Epinephrine is expected to grow at a CAGR of roughly 7.2% over the next five years, and will reach 3410 million US$ in 2024, from 2250 million US$ in 2019.
The United States has the largest global export quantity and manufacturers in the Epinephrine market, while Europe is the second in sales volume for Epinephrine in 2017.
The “outrage” over the rising costs of Epinephrine
Epinephrine is a rather expensive medication. The generic epinephrine is covered by most Medicare and insurance plans. The lowest price for the most common version of Epinephrine is around $109.99. It retails around $267.77
The EpiPen, is an Epinephrine auto injector. EpiPen has risen from $100 in 2007 to $608 for a 2-pack, a 600% increase in price. In 2007, Mylan purchased the EpiPen brand, by 2016, the cost of a pack of EpiPens had soared to over $600, despite manufacturing costs remaining at only $35 per pen.
The increase in prices sparked global outrage, causing epinephrine manufacturer Mylan to launch an authorized “generic” brand, which retails at $300. Mylan, the U.S’s largest manufacturers of the Epipen (a device used for patients that contains epinephrine), prompted pharmaceutical companies to create less expensive, generic copies of the auto-injector.
The pharmaceutical company Mylan, the largest supplier of Epipens, sent the industry into another “frenzy”, when Mylan announced a shortage of Epinephrine injection medication.
Mylan, the US company who owns the EpiPen brand, blames its manufacturer Meridian Medical Technologies for the shortage
As of today, Teva pharmaceutical industries ltd recently released its generic brand of EpiPen earlier this year.
"This really couldn't be better timing for us," Javier said. "We're excited because the EpiPen shortage is creating discomfort among regulators, so the FDA is looking to streamline approvals."
Alerje is definitely a Medtech company to watch for in the future as it continues to produce innovative, affordable technology driven products.