PatientsLikeMe inks AstraZeneca deal, studies Fitbit use for MS patients with Biogen

By Jonah Comstock
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Fitbit-Zip-Fitbit-OneBoston-based patient network PatientsLikeMe announced two pieces of pharma news this week: a five-year research collaboration deal with AstraZeneca and the results of a multiple sclerosis wearable study conducted in collaboration with Biogen.

The PatientsLikeMe-AstraZeneca deal is similar to one the company struck with Genentech last Spring. AstraZeneca will have full access to PatientsLikeMe's global network, and the company will use the data to shape future medicine development and work to improve outcomes in different therapeutic areas, with an initial focus on respiratory disease, lupus, diabetes and oncology.

“Understanding what patients are experiencing every day and how they define the value of their treatments are fundamental to our ability to push the boundaries of science in developing the next-generation of medicines,” Briggs Morrison, EVP Global Medicines Development at AstraZeneca said in a statement. “Our partnership with PatientsLikeMe will help us to harness the important perspectives of patients through their advanced technology and real-world, real-time evidence to support our research and development programs.”

Meanwhile, the data from the Biogen study is set to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's Annual Meeting in Washington, DC this weekend. It was a non-controlled feasibility study to assess the potential usefulness of wearables in increasing the activity of people with multiple sclerosis, and in tracking their activity outside of a doctor's office setting.

In the study, 248 patients with multiple sclerosis were given Fitbit One tracking devices and instructions on using the trackers as well as on sharing data to PatientsLikeMe's online discussion platform.

Over the course of the 21-day study, patients used and synced the device about 87 percent of the time. Afterwards, patients were surveyed about their experience and 191 responded. Of these, 88 percent reported that the device was easy to use and incorporate into their daily routine and 83 percent agreed that they would continue to use the device after the study. Sixty-eight percent believed that the device would be useful to them in managing their MS.

"MS impairs the ability to walk for many people with MS, yet we only assess walking ability in the limited time a patient is in the doctor’s office,” Richard Rudick, MD, vice president of Value Based Medicine at Biogen said in a statement. “Consumer devices can measure number of steps, distance walked, and sleep quality on a continuous basis in a person’s home environment. These data could provide potentially important information to supplement office visit exams.”