Sanofi has gone to new lengths to attract attention in its efforts to expand market share, launching the world’s first talking injection device in North America for people suffering from extreme allergic reactions.
The French pharmaceutical group has begun commercialising a credit-card sized product to guide anyone through the process of giving epinephrine, also known as adrenalin, to someone who is collapsing.
The product, known as Auvi-Q for audio-visual cue in the US and Allerject in Canada, uses an electronic voice to guide users through the five-second injection into the thigh.
It signals a fresh challenge to Mylan, which commercialises the EpiPen, the existing leader in a market that Sanofi said was worth $600m a year in sales and of value to up to 6m people in the US alone. Other generic companies have also launched products in the past but struggled to make an impact.
Severe allergic reactions occur as a result of exposure to allergens including nuts, shellfish, dairy, eggs, insect bites, latex and medication.
The new device, which includes a needle half an inch long to penetrate through clothing, also retracts automatically, reducing the risk of users or patients harming themselves. It will be sold at the same price as the EpiPen.
Sanofi’s launch followed its agreement in 2009 to pay $25m upfront and milestones based on performance of up to $205m to Intelliject, a US company launched by two brothers who developed the Auvi-Q product. Intelliject has retained the commercialisation rights to the device outside the US.
Anne Whitaker, president of North American pharma for Sanofi, said the company was considering broader applications for the technology. “Sanofi is very interested in bringing more intuitive devices to market. We will continue to look at other partnerships.”
Pharmaceutical companies are spending increasing time researching devices that are easier to use, as a way to boost compliance and ensure patients use medicines more effectively.
Mylan refused to comment, saying it was still analysing the news of the launch by Sanofi.