Allerject - A brand new Epinephrine Autoinjector

Sanofi Canada launched Allerject this week and I was very excited to have the opportunity to meet with President and CEO, Jon Fairest for an interview!

Allerject contains the same trusted medicine that has been prescribed for years for administration to a patient in the event of a severe, life threatening allergic reaction (known as anaphylaxis).   The difference with Allerject is with the device itself.  Here is why I think Allerject is going to be very popular:

1. Its Size: It is so compact!  Designed to be the size of a credit card and the width of a mobile phone, Allerject is compact and therefore much more discreet.  I was amazed at how small it really was when I had the opportunity to get my hands on it at the interview.  It is small yet also sturdy and I feel that in an emergency situation, with possibly shaky hands and nerves, it is just the right size -fits in the palm of the hand but not so small or flimsy that you would drop it.

Studies have shown that most of the deaths that occur due to life threatening allergies happen to people who knew they were allergic but failed to use their epinephrine autoinjector.  The reasons stated for this were either failure to carry the epi-pen on their person or failure to use their epi-pen.  I am hopeful that the design of this new alternative will encourage more people to carry their medicine on their person at all times.  The device fits easily in a pocket or purse and is very discreet.  I think this will be appreciated in particular by tweens and teens who may have been a little more self-conscious about carrying around their medicine to school etc.

2. It talks!  Allerject is the first talking epinephrine autoinjector.  It is very cool!  Remove the cover and a calm voice guides you through what to do next.  Rather than having to refer to the written instructions in fine print as your hands shake and you are probably very nervous, you have a calm, lovely voice assuring you that you are handling the device correctly and instructing you through the process.  The device tells you how to remove the security cap, where to place the device on the body (still the outer front thigh as we are accustomed to), which end of the unit to place there and how to inject the medicine.  There is no stabbing or swinging movement required.  Simply press and hold the button at the top of the device as you are instructed to do and the unit counts down the administration of the adrenaline...5-4-3-2-1.  "Injection Complete".  I really like that the device does the counting and tells you when the injection has been successfully administered.  I feel that in the panic of the moment, it would be comforting to have a voice telling you that you have in fact administered the medicine for the appropriate amount of time and that the full dosage has been given.  The unit then reminds the user of the need to seek immediate medical attention.  Very important.  We all know that epinephrine is emergency supportive therapy and that follow up in hospital is required. 
As a mom, what appeals to me about Allerject is that I feel it will do the talking for my daughter if I can't be there myself to help her.  I find it frightening to imagine her having a reaction and having to trust that another person will know how to adminster her medicine correctly.  The fact that Allerject will guide them through the process helps to comfort me and put my mind more at ease.  

In my experiences training teachers on allergy safety in the classrooms, I am always amazed at the stories I hear of parents not knowing how to use the epi-pen.  I feel that this new device will help to make everyone more confident and hopefully we won't hear any more stories of people failing to administer this much needed medicine because they didn't feel comfortable or confident to use it!  

3. It was developed by one of us! The inventors of Allerject are twin brothers, Eric and Evan, both with food allergies.  They get it.  They designed Allerject to be the device they want to have on hand in the event of an emergency anaphylactic reaction.

More interesting facts about Allerject:
  • Allerject is available in two dosage strengths 
  • Choice of language for voice commands in English or French
  • There is also an LED light to signal when the injection is complete
  • The needle will never be seen -it is retractable.  You do not see it before, during or after the injection.  Great for anyone with a phobia of needles!  And less scary for children (or big children) of course.
  • Trainers are currently free!  In fact it is encouraged!  Follow this link:  Free Allerject Trainer
The interview:

Having the opportunity to sit down and talk about allergies and anaphylaxis is always a great experience for me and I was so impressed with the discussion I was able to have with Mr. Fairest.  He recognized the need for training teachers in schools, and other important members of the public to recognize the signs of anaphylaxis and how to administer the epinephrine.  His passion for this new device was evident and I have to say I am very excited to fill my perscription when the devices become available at my pharmacy (should be available beginning of February).  Here are a few other points that we discussed about Allerject:

The Battery:  The injection and the device is battery-powered.  The device has undergone rigorous testing and the battery should last well beyond the shelf-life of the epinephrine inside.  This means that your epinephrine will expire well before the battery runs out.  The studies showed that the battery typically lasts for 2 years with the device being opened every day for the duration of those 2 years.  I'm sure the novelty of hearing the lovely lady's voice will be over much before that!  Good to know however and even better...the device can still be operated manually if the battery does run out.

Too Discreet? One concern with the discreet size of Allerject was
 how would people know to find it on a person if they were unable to speak for themselves or retrieve it from their pocket or purse?   Did you know that medicalert allows you to list the drugs you require for treatment of your condition right on your bracelet.  I believe that in a medical emergency where a person was unable to speak or communicate what was happening to them, the helpful bystander would look for a medicalert bracelet.  An example of what could be written on the bracelet:  Allergy Anaphylaxis to all dairy, eggs, nuts. Carries Allerject medicine.  You can see from the image here that there is room to include that information.  Medic alert will also be able to advise anyone who phones in on your behalf of your medication.  For children, there will be carrying cases available for purchase.  Most schools require that children wear their device on their person and a second injector to be kept in the office.

Cost & Expiration:  Allerject will cost the same and have the same shelf-life as the epi-pen.  It is not more expensive.  Well thank goodness for that because in actuality we should all be carrying more than one epinephrine autoinjector on our persons.  The reality is a second dose could be required.

The Future:  As an advocate for people with life-threatening allergies, I am keen to speak with anyone that I feel can have an influence on improving safety, quality of life and raise empathy and awareness around anaphylaxis.  It was a pleasure to discuss the potential for a new, standard First Aid Kit -Shouldn't every first aid kit have an epinephrine autoinjector inside?  How about public places such as schools, community centres, arenas, airplanes, etc.   I would love to see training, education, awareness and public access to this device in all public places.   It has happened with the defibrillator and now that we have a talking device, I believe it can happen with epinephrine for allergies.  As sad as I have been to see the dramatic rise in food allergies over the past 11 years (from 1% of the population to 7.5%!), and the increase of stories in the media about food allergies I hope there is a silver lining...I hope that there will be an increase in understanding of the severity of food allergies and the real danger and risk for people suffering from them.  I hope that people will be educated to recognize the signs of a reaction and know how to handle an emergency situation by administering epinephrine.  I also hope that with this education there will come empathy. 

Ask your doctor about Allerject and be sure to sign up for one of the trainers!  I'd love to hear your thoughts and opinions and if you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact me.  Let me know if you plan to try it out!