AstraZeneca plans new connected inhaler trial to improve medication adherence in COPD patients

By Heather Mack
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Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca is beginning a clinical trial in collaboration with Quintiles looking at the impact of mobile medication reminders for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The proposed yearlong trial – which is still not yet recruiting participants – will be an intervention study involving an estimated 380 people with COPD divided into two groups. Both groups will use Symbicort inhalers connected to patient support tool BreatheMate, which automatically detects and logs maintenance medication uses and sends the data to their phone via Bluetooth, but one group will also get daily reminders in the form of beeps and flashes on the inhaler while the other will not.

The study aims to find how reminders can help improve medication maintenance in a population that hasn’t done well with adherence – refill rates for COPD patients using combination therapy averages only 3.9 times per year, previous studies have shown. Additionally, COPD patients with lower adherence tend to have higher overall healthcare costs.

“Given the poor adherence with inhaled combination therapy seen in patients with COPD, and associated morbidity/mortality and economic costs, the present study is being conducted to see if medication reminders can be used to improve adherence in this population,” the ClinicalTrial.gov posting states.

AstraZeneca has worked with New Zealand smart inhaler company Adherium in the past on medication adherence for COPD, and it's very possible that this trial is a further test of that technology. We've reached out to AstraZeneca for comment and will update if they respond. AstraZeneca is also an investor in Adherium.