A Chat with Evan Edwards: Kaleo, Anti-Bullying, & Advice for Teens

sharon with Chat with Evan Edwards- Kaleo, Anti-Bullying, & Advice for Teens

I had the privilege of chatting with Evan Edwards recently about Kaléo, their anti-bullying initiative, and Evan’s advice for young entrepeneurs and inventors.

Disclaimer: I had an opportunity to speak with Evan Edwards and Keith Burke from Kaléo, I am sharing parts of our conversation for your information (not sponsored) and all opinions are mine. Do not consider this article medical advice, please consult your medical professional.
UPDATE: I made the most embarrassing mistake and initially wrote that I met with Eric when I actually met with Evan. I edited this post and the photo a, I apologize for my mistake. ~Sharon

Recent news about Kaléo’s new anti-bullying initiative is very welcomed and it was great to sit down with Evan Edwards at FABlogCon in Denver to talk about it. Evan and his twin brother, Dr. Eric Edwards are the co-founders of Kaléo and inventors of Auvi-Q, a compact epinephrine autoinjector with audio-visual cues to prompt someone adminstering an epinephrine autoinjector during anaphylaxis.

No Appetite for Bullying logo

No Appetite for Bullying

Kaléo, along with FAACT, FARE, Allergy & Asthma Network, and Kids with Food Allergies, announced that they are launching an anti-bullying initiative, No Appetite for Bullying, a resource specifically for raising “awareness of food-allergy bullying with the goal of creating solutions and encouraging food allergy acceptance.”

A collaborative food allergy anti-bullying effort is great news because we know that food allergy related bullying exists. Food allergy bullying happens when someone mocks, shames, or threatens a food allergic person for their food allergies. It could be as subtle as not being invited to playdates or parties. Or food allergy bullying could be more overt such teasing or exposing someone to their allergens.

Evan and I swapped stories about how we have experienced threatening or hostile situations due to food allergies. We agree we need more food allergy awareness, we need to cultivate compassion and understanding and to empower food allergic individuals.

Kaléo and the food allergy organizations have great potential to make a difference together and we can get behind them. Our community is always stronger together when we are united and support each other to stay safe, happy, and well.

  • One of the interesting facts from some preliminary research is that 82% of parents of children with life-threatening allergies (LTAs) that believe children are bullied due to food allergies think their child has been bullied because of their allergies.
  • In contrast, 80% of parents of children without LTAs indicated that they don’t think food allergies are a reason children are bullied.

In other words, a majority of food allergy parents believe that their children have been bullied due to food allergies and a majority of parents who don’t live with food allergies disagree. Clearly, we need more awareness, surround ourselves with allies, and create alliances with regards to food allergy bullying. We need to help kids to support each other and we need to share our stories.

Sharon Wong and Evan Edwards at FABlogCon
I met with Evan Edwards, one of the inventors of Auvi-Q, at FABlogCon. Photo credit: Keith Burke

Auvi-Q by Mail

Kaléo announced last year that the Auvi-Q was ready for production and distribution again. They had secured the rights to manufacture Auvi-Q, addressed the manufacturing issues which led to a recall and announced their Affordability program and delivery by mail service.

Our family’s insurance does not cover the Auvi-Q so we qualify for the Auvi-Q AffordAbility program. The process is simple, I download and print the Affordability form, fill it out and give it to our allergist, who then faxes it to Auvi-Q’s Affordability program. They process the order, call me to set up a delivery date, and it’s delivered to my house.

Evan told me that not only has the mail delivery program launched successfully and they are gratified to know that Auvi-Q has been used over 4,900 times to save lives. They appreciate it when patients share their experiences with them. One parent told them that shortly after their family recieved their Auvi-Q in the mail, their child had an anaphylactic reaction at school and was confident about using Auvi-Q because of the device’s audio cues.

Auvi-Q AffordAbility & Insurance Coverage

Apparently the MSRP of the Auvi-Q is around $4,000 and Evan explained that almost no one pays that price because if a medical insurance plan includes the Auvi-Q in their plan, they pay a negotiated price. If a medical insurance plan does not include Auvi-Q in their plan then the patient will most likely qualify to receive Auvi-Q for free.

Most people can have access to Auvi-Q except for people who have government healthcare due to Medicare or as government workers or military personnel. People with government medical insurance don’t have coverage for Auvi-Q and also can’t qualify under the Affordability program.

Evan was nice enough to give some examples but it’s best to summarize that the government has many rules, policies, and procedures in place to determine which medications are covered, which does not include Auvi-Q.

However, readers who are government employees with a private insurance plan might want to call Auvi-Q and ask to speak with an insurance specialist for help or clarification regarding their specific circumstances.

I was also concerned about whether Kaléo will continue their Auvi-Q AffordAbility plan in 2018. Evan said yes, which led to my next question how can giving away Auvi-Q to everyone whose insurance policies won’t cover the cost be sustainable as a business model?

The Auvi-Q AffordAbility program is sustainable especially when more insurance companies will agree to include Auvi-Q in their prescription plans. If Auvi-Q is the best epi for you or your family, you and your doctor can call or write to your insurance companies and ask them to include Auvi-Q in your medical insurance plan and give reasons why. As more insurers get onboard, then Kaléo can continue giving away Auvi-Q to patients and stock epi at schools.

Advice for Young Entrepeneurs

Evan and I had a great time talking about Kaléo and their business and talking about food allergy bullying can be painful and sad. I wanted to end our conversation with something fun and inspiring. I asked him if he had any advice for young entrepeneurs who might have a great idea, how do they make their ideas come alive?

Evan’s advice to teens or young adults with a great idea centers around Kaléo’s tagline is “Together, we build solutions for life.”

  1. Try to take risks when you’re younger because the impact of failing is lower and you can learn from it. Your journey is your reward.
  2. Focus on good relationships and building a good team and community of people who will support you. Learn to work with each other, empower others, and involve others.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, people are willing to help you. Seek to understand things around you. If you see a problem and the key to innovation is to ask the right questions. Why is this the way it is? Why haven’t there been any changes?

Evan and Eric’s journey as inventors began when they realized the forgot to pack their epi on a big family vacation to Europe which got them thinking about how to make an epinephrine autoinjector easier to carry and easier to use. If you have a great idea that would help others, I hope these tips will inspire and encourage you or your young adult to pursue them.

Bonus Q&A: What’s your favorite Asian dish?

I think I took Evan by surprise when I asked him what’s his favorite Asian dish? After some consideration, he told me that because his wife has lived and traveled internationally, she guided him to try some Indian and Thai dishes but his favorite dishes are Chinese Chicken and Broccoli and General Tsao’s Chicken. Who likes those dishes too?

Thank you so much Evan Edwards and Kaléo for taking the time to speak with me, it’s always a pleasure! Until next time, cheers!

P.S. Shortly after we had our in-person interview at FABlogCon, Kaléo announced that they received FDA approval AUVI-Q (epinephrine injection, USP) 0.1 mg, the first and only epinephrine auto-injector specifically designed for the treatment of life-threatening allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis, in infants and small children weighing 16.5 to 33 pounds who are at risk for or have a history of serious allergic reactions. If you have any questions about the epi for babies or Auvi-Q, post them in the comments or email me and I’ll be sure to follow-up the next time I chat with Kaléo.

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About Sharon Wong 282 Articles
Welcome to Nut Free Wok, a blog about Allergy Aware Asian Fare. I hope that you will find my food allergy mom experiences helpful and enjoyable to read as I write about recipes, cooking techniques, Asian ingredients, and food allergy related awareness and advocacy issues. My professional experiences include education, teaching, and a little bit of science and computers. Thank you for visiting! ~Sharon Wong, M.Ed.

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