Monday, January 7, 2013

Epinephrine Auto-Injectors - The Kleenex Effect

Ever since Kyle Dine first posted on Facebook about the new Auvi-Q™ epinephrine auto-injector coming onto the scene, I've been thinking about something.  It has also been even more so on my mind, now, since I have been given the very exciting opportunity to attend the Auvi-Q™ Social Media Summit, next week, where I will get the chance to see the new Auvi-Q™ auto-injector up-close-and-personal, though I promise all of this occurred to me well before that invitation was extended. : )

Let me give you a wee bit of my background, first.  I have a BBA (Bachelor of Business Administration) degree, with a concentration in International Business and an MBA (Master of Business Administration) degree, with a concentration in Marketing Management.  However, I never worked in either of those fields.  Go figure. :)  I ended up working in the IT field, until I quit my full-time job to have my daughter.  After a few years of pure "stay-at-home-Mommy-ness", two of said years spent organizing a playgroup (with the help of some other amazing co-organizing mommies) with 70+ members, I now work part-time at my former IT job, remotely, so I can stay close to my daughter.  (All those things were/are made possible by the support of my amazing husband and parents, particularly my father.  (My mother is sight-impaired and cannot care for my daughter, though she certainly provides plenty of love and attention.)  I am no one-woman-dynamo, I assure you!)  Anyway, it's the marketing part of my schooling that I'm dusting off here.

Have you ever heard of something called "The Kleenex Effect"?  It has also been called "The Branding Effect", but the most famous example is that of Kleenex®.  When you sneeze, you might often ask someone to pass you a "Kleenex", but they may really be passing you a "Puffs®" brand facial tissue.  I would say "Pampers" is another theoretical example of this, but this has to apply to non-parents, because what diaper-using mommy doesn't know the difference between Pampers® Baby Dry™ and Huggies® Snug & Dry™?  (I'm totally being silly, here, but there are some of us who do notice which diapers work better.)  The point is that "Pampers" is a word that became synonymous with diapers.  We also often ask for "Band-Aids®" instead of "adhesive bandages", etc.  

Well, we have that situation going on with the EpiPen®.  There is no doubt that the EpiPen® is the dominant auto-injector in town, at least here in the U.S.  I don't really know anyone who carries an Adrenaclick® or a Twinject®, though the latter may be used more in Canada.  When researching for this post, I found that the main auto-injectors for the UK are the Anapen® and Jext®.  

I think that when I see people posting about auto-injector use, they are writing about EpiPens, because they really are talking about an actual EpiPen®, as I know that is the case when I do it.  However, now I'm noticing that it's popping up in training literature and educational videos, etc.  They're writing things like, "When to use an EpiPen."  Hmm, what if I have a different device?  Don't you mean, "When to use an epinephrine auto-injector?"  Sure, it takes longer to write, but I'm talking about technical materials, that should be impartial and independent of brand affiliation.  They can certainly mention examples, and I have seen ones that state, "such as EpiPen®, Twinject®, etc.)  What if Mylan comes out with a new device next year?  Well, we know at the very least that Sanofi's Auvi-Q™ is due out this quarter.           

In looking at this from a marketing/future development standpoint, I think we need to return to the standard acronym of EAI (epinephrine auto-injector).  It's the acronym I've seen used in various clinical articles and other medical papers.  Yes, it's also the acronym that Auvi-Q uses on their site, of course.  They must also be aware of this issue.  I can't be the only one that has noticed! ;)  I think their goals and our goals are compatible, in this case.  We want competition in this market.  We want innovations and advances.  The EpiPen® was redesigned back in 2009 to provide needle coverage before and after use and we now wait to see what new advances are to come in new products.  

Also, I believe one of the anaphylaxis community's goals is to have epinephrine available in all public places, in the same way we see portable AED machines provided.  Those devices have a distinctive logo, of a heart with a white lightning bolt through them, and the letters "AED" for "Automated External Defibrillator" on them.  If we want something like that, we'll need a universally-identifiable logo, as well.  This is just my quick attempt at a sample to give you an idea of what I mean:  

We need the general public to be knowledgeable about all different kinds of auto-injectors.  We don't know when we're going to get our wish for these epinephrine stations and we don't know what kind of auto-injectors are going to go in them.

So, in the near future, some of us might be carrying a set of Auvi-Qs™, and some might have an EpiPen 2-PAK® and others may have another brand, or we might be carrying all of them, for good measure!  Either way, perhaps we should make it a point to be more specific about what we are discussing when it's a specific item, yet be general in our terminology, when we are not discussing a particular brand of auto-injector.  Now, I'm not suggesting we go so far as to bust out with the Alt+0153 on the 10-key to make the ™ and the Alt+0174 to make the ®, every time we write their names, of course, as I only did that for illustrative purposes.  However, getting back to using "EAI" when discussing the generic use of auto-injectors will allow that space for innovation and brand diversity, so we don't fall into the "Kleenex" trap.

Edited to Add: Ha! My friend just asked me if I had read my latest issue of Allergic Living magazine and I admitted that it was still sitting on the pile of magazines from last week.  She pointed me to an article in it about the Auvi-Q entitled,"The Talking Auto-Injector", where they referred to it as "the AED of epinephrine auto-injectors".  I promise that I conceived of and wrote this post before reading that article!  I guess we're just on the same wavelength and it makes perfect sense...what can I say? :)


  1. EXCELLENT points! I'll be attending the summit too; Looking forward to meeting you and learning more about the Auvi-Q.

  2. Thank you and I look forward to meeting you, too! :)

  3. Selena, you post is happening! Great job and great point. Can you email me your link the blog post you'll write about the Auvi-Q? I want to include other's perspective on the Auvi-Q in my blog post. So folks can see how others viewed the device.

    Again, super valuable post!

  4. Loved this post so much I had to include you in today's post! I love how you break down the Kleenex effect. Just marvelous and explained so clearly.

    Have a fabulous weekend.

  5. Thank you very much, Caroline!!