AstraZeneca invests $3M in NZ smart inhaler maker Adherium

By Jonah Comstock
Share

smartinhaler adheriumAdherium Limited, a New Zealand company working on a smart inhaler, has raised $25.6 million ($35 million AU) in an initial public offering on the Australian Securities Exchange, including a $3 million investment from its partner pharma company AstraZeneca, which just last month announced a longterm commercialization agreement with the company.

Adherium makes a line of medical devices that connect to inhalers to increase medication adherence, under the name Smartinhaler.

"The devices track the date and time of patient use and transmit audio and visual reminders to the patient when they miss a critical dose of preventative medication," the company explains in a statement. "The devices automatically transmit the data using the SmartinhalerLive wireless communications software to a smartphone app, home monitoring hub, or PC, and then to the Company’s cloud-based servers, where it can be accessed by the patient’s health care professional and care giver."

The devices have both a CE Mark and FDA 510(k) clearance. In trials conducted by the company, the inhaler sensor was shown to improve adherence by up to 59 percent in adults and 180 percent in children with asthma.

The company currently sells its device to disease management groups and clinical investigators, but the plan is to sell the platform to pharmaceutical companies which can then build their own apps to go along with it and distribute it via their own channels.

In the agreement announced last month, AstraZeneca will incorporate Adherium products into global patient support programs for patients with COPD and asthma. Initially, devices will be used to monitor patients' therapy adherence and help guide them to improve, but in the future it might be used to assess patients' personal risk factors and monitor their conditions.

"This partnership signifies a change in the way we approach the treatment of respiratory disease," Adherium Chairman Dr. Doug Wilson said in a statement. "By providing objective and accurate data on a patient's medication usage, we can now for the first time develop treatment plans tailored to each patient, and in doing so dramatically improve their quality of life."

Smart inhalers are quickly emerging as one of the most visible areas of pharma engagement in digital health. Propeller Health announced a partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim last September. The company also has specific FDA clearances for using its device with offerings from GSK and Boehringer Ingelheim. Opko Health, a smaller biopharmaceutical company, bought Israeli startup Inspiro Medical last Spring to build its own smart inhaler products. Other companies working on smart inhalers include Gecko Health Innovations, which makes a platform called CareTRx, and Cohero Health, which is in the midst of a pilot with Mt. Sinai Hospital.