Dr. Doug McMahon is more than your average allergist. His out of the box thinking led him to create an affordable epinephrine auto-injector whose practical design could save lives. His device, named AllergyStop, is a palm-sized auto-injector – small enough to attach to a key chain. Read about his journey below: what led him into allergy and immunology; the inspiration for his invention; and how you can follow the process of getting AllergyStop to market.
1. What led you to become an allergist? Did you feel a connection to the field?
When I was very young I had food allergies, environmental allergies and asthma. I was under the care of various doctors who said that I should be home schooled, shouldn’t play sports or go to friends houses. My mother knew that there were many other kids in my situation living a normal life so we found a specialist to work with and I lived a ‘normal life’. This impact made me want to become a doctor and an Allergy specialist in particular.
2. Have you experienced an allergic reaction yourself? Anaphylaxis?
Yes, I have had a few significant reactions. Thankfully no anaphylaxis in the last 25 years. Most of the severe anaphylactic reactions were when I was very young and they didn’t know yet I was allergic to tree nuts.
3. What led you to develop AllergyStop? Describe your “Aha!” moment.
When I was in high school and realized I needed to start carrying this bulky device everywhere. I took apart my EpiPen and realized it didn’t need to be so big. I started playing around with parts over the years and when I became a doctor I realized the small amount of epinephrine needed. I was busy in medical school but still toyed around with it. In residency, I learned how inexpensive the medicine and parts were so I started building prototypes. AllergyStop is the best one I developed that is efficient, compact and inexpensive. We will be working on other improvements on the device through the years.
4. How does AllergyStop differ from current epinephrine auto-injectors?
It is more compact and you can have an adjustable needle as some patients are too big for the EpiPen needle length and it does not go intramuscular as intended. Some are too thin and it goes into the bone. AllergyStop has resolved this issue.
5. Where does the product stand now?
We have a functional prototype that I currently carry on my keychain. We have a patent pending and are finalizing the patent. We are contracting with manufacturers that will make the device and fill with epinephrine and have a few bids in right now. Once secure we have an outline of the regulation tests required by the FDA and then we will submit to the FDA ‘fast track’ via 505 b2.
6. What hurdles remain to overcome? How can those interested stay informed on its progress?
Hurdles include the money for the testing that is estimated at upwards of $3 million. The problem is that venture capitalists are interested but they often expect a large return on their money and would want AllergyStop’s price to increase. We want to keep the cost affordable for patients.
7. How has your experience both having food allergies and developing AllergyStop changed/enhanced your relationship with your patients?
I can relate well to my patients that have had reactions and have the burdens of watching what they eat. I think it makes the patients more appreciative and comfortable. It’s actually tough to see some of them wanting my device now and yet the FDA advises against giving it out without all of the regulatory steps. Hopefully soon.
If you want to help support the process of getting AllergyStop to market, please visit AllergyStop’s IndieGoGo page.