With an eye on the food allergy community as a unique group of consumers since 2008, we're on a quest to find and share ways to continue enjoying the good things in life.

26 October 2017

Food Allergy Consumer: Considering Mylan and Kaleo

First things first. Let me begin by stating that I am a huge fan of the Auvi-Q epinephrine autoinjector. Provided it functions as well as the competition or better, I do not think you can beat its discrete size and shape, and its user-friendliness. It's fantastic and we were thrilled when Kaleo put it back on the market in the U.S.

Having observed many things food allergy related for more than a decade now, however, I am concerned by Kaleo's recent initiatives and campaigns. I am getting flashbacks to Mylan's intiatives and campaigns. I remember how enthusiastically bloggers and the non-profit food allergy organizations collaborated with Mylan. I know disease awareness campaigns by pharmaceutical companies are nothing new, and often do provide benefits to patients, but in light of the highly publicized price-gouging by Mylan, one would hope the food allergy community is taking note of Kaleo's similar marketing via awareness campaigns.

While many patients have received Auvi-Q--delightedly--for $0 thanks to Kaleo's amazing Affordability program, countless publications have reported that the list price for Auvi-Q and its starting price for health insurance companies is $4500. Does anyone really think that Kaleo will eternally charge patients $0 for Auvi-Q? How could that be possible? Modernhealthcare.com states "It's been widely reported that the actual list price for Auvi-Q is $4,500, which will be the starting point for insurers to negotiate discounts and rebates. It appears Kaleo will foot the bill for patients with commercial insurers that choose not to cover Auvi-Q." For many of us, health insurance already has astronomical costs, what will happen down the road as a result of the high bill for insurance companies that do cover Auvi-Qs? It all seems too good to be true, and unfortunately, that usually means it is. At some point, something is going to change, but what? We will wait and see.

Now some hail the latest awareness campaign, this time anti-food allergy bullying in collaboration with national food allergy non-profits. I believe I read that 1000 parents of children with food allergies were surveyed. We have about 15 million people with food allergies, with a large percentage of them being children, so 1000 parents is an extremely small sample! And how was this tiny sample of parents recruited and selected?  It just doesn't make me feel warm and fuzzy about Auvi-Q. The actual device itself really is impressive all on its own. These campaigns, in my opinion, diminish Kaleo and make it resemble its competitor Mylan; not a good thing. 

I know the Edwards "get" food allergies and I appreciate that. It is noteworthy. And I do love Auvi-Q! But I haven't forgotten how a few years ago, Mylan strategically ingratiated itself with food allergy bloggers, non-profit organizations, and the overall food allergy community with its awareness campaigns and initiatives, as it jacked up the price of its life-saving medicine. So, what is the difference between Mylan's awareness initiatives and campaigns and Kaleo's? And then what is the difference between Mylan and Kaleo as companies? I also have to wonder about the non-profit organizations too--why the silence about Auvi-Q's high starting price for insurance companies, and the silence over the years while the price of Epi-pens rose? I don't have answers to these questions, but they are certainly worth considering. A little consumer skepticism is warranted following the infamous activities of Mylan.

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