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21 April 2017

Food Allergy Consumer Tip Fridays: Auvi-Q "AffordAbility" and Ordering

Kaleo, the manufacturer of Auvi-Q, contacted me and a number of food allergy bloggers prior to and after the re-release of Auvi-Q. I agreed to speak with a Kaleo executive just once; it’s very important to me that Food Allergy Buzz remain a neutral and objective source of food allergy consumer information as much as possible. This is why Food Allergy Buzz tends not to have advertisements.

Auvi-Q was re-released in early 2017. My son and I are huge fans of the Auvi-Q device because of its compact size. Teen boys in particular have a difficult time finding a discreet way to carry Epi-pens, so the Auvi-Q is a particularly welcome addition to the epinephrine auto-injector marketplace. I am hoping there will not be any recalls or problems with the new and improved Auvi-Q. There is no question--a smaller, more discreet, easier to carry autoinjector is definitely preferable over the old bulky Epi-pen, but I still wonder, can we rely on it?

What follows is a description of the ordering process we experienced. I decided to not order an Auvi-Q immediately after re-launch, but rather hold off and wait a bit. It has been about three months since its re-launch and I have not heard any negative feedback, so here we go! Now that we have ordered Auvi-Q, I continue to have mixed feelings about the cost and payment for Auvi-Q. "The Pharmacy" called to confirm shipping information within a couple of hours of receiving my son's prescription. I had to ask the representative "Which pharmacy?" It struck me as odd that the representatives who called each identified themselves as calling from "The Pharmacy", as though there is only one pharmacy. Why not identify themselves by the actual pharmacy name, Aspin?

Without prompting, the representative then proceeded to inform me that although our insurance does not cover Auvi-Q, we can still receive it at no charge to us.  They had already received our health insurance information directly from our allergist along with the prescription. I have read the articles about Kaleo's unique pricing of Auvi-Q and I have an uncomfortable feeling about it. I feel no reassurance or comfort upon hearing that my out-of-pocket cost is zero because I have this feeling I am still paying for it or will pay for it in the future, one way or another. To read about Auvi-Q Pricing and the AffordAbility Program, please visit the AffordAbility website.

I had been told by the allergist that there is a 4-6 week waiting period but the Aspin representative told me we would receive the Auvi-Q within 2 business days. The Aspin representative also informed me that there is no tracking number for the package and no email or text confirmation of the order. I find that a little strange. Then, the representative tells me that she is calling from New Jersey but that the actual prescription will be filled by a local pharmacy, close to where I live. I am trying to understand why it is only being sent through the mail, if the prescription is being filled by a local pharmacy. Maybe the local pharmacies have no storefronts? Wouldn’t less overhead mean a cheaper price (even if it is paid by the insurance companies not us)? I am left with more questions than I had when the allergist wrote the prescription. Why is this process so mysterious? 

Now, I am waiting to see if the Auvi-Q will be delivered on the appointed date. There has been a lot discussion about the delays, so if delivery is as promised, I will be pleasantly surprised, and it will have turned out to be a fairly quick and easy process. I know my son will be very happy to head back to school with a much more discreet epinephrine autoinjector. Here's hoping!

UPDATED April 22, 2017
I am sorry to report that the Auvi-Q Prescription was not delivered to us as promised. Very disappointing. I will be calling Aspin Pharmacy to check on its status. Not sure what power I will have as a consumer since I have paid zero for this prescription. Strike 1 against Kaleo.

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