The Rise of Bongo Rx: An Interview with AirAvant's Javier Collazo

Joseph Krainin, M.D.
Javier Collazo AirAvant

I had the pleasure of interviewing Javier Collazo, AirAvant Medical's General Manager and Vice President. AirAvant has brought Bongo Rx, the latest FDA-approved CPAP alternative for the treatment of OSA and second iteration of nasal EPAP therapy, to market. So far, the majority of our patients have reported a high level of satisfaction with Bongo Rx. 

What was the inspiration for the “Bongo” product name?

When our R&D team presented our very first prototype of the device to marketing, they quickly noticed that it resembled a small pair of Bongos. Hence, the Bongo name was born! As we later showed the final device to patients, doctors, and providers for their feedback, many remarked that they liked the unique and memorable name "Bongo." Based on these positive remarks, we ultimately decided to market the device as the Bongo Rx.

The Bongo Rx is the second nasal EPAP product to come to market. What inspired the research and development to create an alternative to Provent?

We actually had been researching EPAP as a therapy option well before Provent was even on the market. We were initially inspired to create a non-surgical, non-powered, and user-friendly solution for treating sleep apnea because of the high non-compliance rate with CPAP therapy. Small, convenient, portable, easy to apply, and reusable were all attributes that we strove to deliver in our EPAP device. Treating sleep apnea will minimizing impact to patient lifestyle was always a key goal of our design. 

bongo rx

What are the advantages of Bongo Rx over Provent?

While both devices produce EPAP, there are several key differences. Bongo Rx has soft, silicone nasal seals instead of an adhesive seal. Bongo Rx acts as a nasal dilator and can be applied very quickly, even in the dark. Bongo Rx is reusable and is available in 4 different sizes. Bongo Rx has both lower inspiratory and expiratory resistance compared to Provent.

Bongo Rx is a relatively new product, debuting in 2019. I imagine that it is quite arduous and involved to get through the required regulations. How was your experience with the FDA-approval process?

To legally sell a device for treating sleep apnea in the U.S., it must be reviewed by the FDA. We conducted many tests, including clinical testing on our Bongo Rx, and submitted our device and data to the FDA in order to demonstrate that the device is both safe and effective. The Bongo Rx was subsequently reviewed and cleared by the FDA for use in the treatment of mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Who would you say ideal candidates are for Bongo Rx?

Patients who have mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea without significant co-morbidities and meet one of the criteria below:

  • Non-compliant with CPAP and looking for a user-friendly option
  • Compliant with CPAP, but are looking for a supplemental therapy option for use while traveling, camping, at home, or any place electricity may not be available

It seems that many users may not be aware of your company’s recommendation to have a follow up sleep study while using Bongo Rx. Tell us about why that recommendation is important.

With any and all treatments for sleep apnea, we recommend that patients follow up with their doctor to ensure that the user is still using the device and that it is treating their OSA. We strongly believe that a continuous interaction between sleep apnea patients and their doctors is key to promoting compliance with any sleep apnea treatment, such as the Bongo Rx.

There is an optional headgear for the Bongo Rx. What advantages does this provide and who should consider it?

The Bongo Rx does come with an optional headgear accessory. It can be worn with or without the headgear, depending on the patient's preference. Some users, especially those that are active sleepers, may prefer the further stability that the headgear provides. Some patients like to use the headgear as a lanyard, for example if they get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.

To my knowledge, medical insurances are typically not covering Bongo Rx. With more and more people having high deductible health plans, it is important for people to know whether purchasing the product will count towards their deductible or if they can use HSA/FSA accounts to buy it. Can you comment on this?

Bongo Rx, like many newer CPAP alternative devices, is not a covered item under medical insurance plans. Patients may find that the Bongo Rx costs less than their co-pays for their CPAP machine and for their CPAP supplies, such as their CPAP masks, CPAP tubing, filters, etc. The Bongo Rx is a prescription device so patients should be able to use their health savings account to buy it. However, we recommend that patients first check directly with their insurance company about applying the Bongo Rx to their deductible or to their the HSA/FSA accounts.

How often do you recommend replacing Bongo Rx?

We recommend replacing the device after 90 uses per the instructions. 

Any new products or accessories in the pipeline that you can tell us about?

Nothing that we can share publicly right now, but we do want to remind users that our All Sizes Starter Kits and our Annual Replacement Packs all come with headgear, a drying stand, and a travel case.

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