Propeller gets FDA clearance for new inhaler, COPD platform

By Jonah Comstock
08:38 am

Propeller HealthPropeller Health, formerly Asthmapolis, has received FDA clearance for a platform that includes a new smart inhaler and is geared for patients with either asthma or COPD.

"Our goal is to minimize or eliminate exacerbations – that drives everything we do. Key to that, particularly as we move deeper into COPD, is optimizing both the patient and provider experience on Propeller," David Van Sickle, CEO of Propeller Health, said in a statement. "... We remain focused on building ever better tools to passively collect timely data about inhaled medication use, provide people with coaching and guidance that is relevant, personalized, and actionable, and make care teams more efficient through new opportunities to intervene."

The new platform will help users to prevent so-called "asthma attacks" or similar lung inflammation symptoms caused by COPD. The Propeller Metered-Dose Inhaler measures a patient's use of their rescue inhaler. That data is automatically compared to a patient's baseline and to general clinical guidelines, and the app can alert care teams if an attack seems likely. 

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The presence of new sensors in the inhaler also allows the platform to improve adherence through coaching. In addition to its previously existing coaching program focused on how to manage the disease, recognize symptoms and avoid triggers, the system will now be able to coach users on how to use their inhaler properly.

The new inhaler is also 30 percent smaller, according to Propeller, and to connect to the smartphone it uses Bluetooth Low Energy, which increases its battery life to more than 18 months.

When Propeller changed its name last fall, CEO David Van Sickle told MobiHealthNews the priority for 2014 would be to extend offerings beyond asthma into the larger chronic respiratory disease space.

“For the next year and even 2014, I see us focused on chronic respiratory disease," he said at the time. "And we are thinking about that in a very broad sense, to potentially include cystic fibrosis, and we’re looking at the global opportunities and are pursuing international regulatory clearance for the system. So that’s a lot for us to take on in a year, but whether that ultimately plays out as the full breadth and mission of the company, I can’t say at this point.”

Propeller Health's original system has been adopted by a number of providers since its 2010 launch, including Dignity Health in CaliforniaAmerigroup in Florida, and the City of Louisville. More recently, the platform has shown up at the Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Centers in San Diego and as part of a trial with Qualcomm and Zephyr at Rady Children’s Hospital.


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