French companion app company Voluntis has partnered with AstraZeneca to develop an app for women undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer. Specifically, the app will help patients and clinicians manage the side effects of a combination therapy of the drugs cediranib and olaparib, which can cause hypertension and diarrhea.
"AstraZeneca has a strong focus on the use of companion devices in drug development," Pierre Leurent, Chief Executive Officer of Voluntis said in a statement. "Their approach, combined with our technological, medical and regulatory expertise provides the perfect synergy to create a personalized therapeutic solution that goes beyond the pill to best serve the needs of patients and their health care providers.”
The app will allow patients to report those side effects in a more streamlined way than the status quo, so their doctor can tweak their dosages accordingly. The app will be tested in three different clinical trials sponsored by the National Cancer Institute. The first trial will begin in the first quarter of 2016. According to a release by the company, this is also the beginning of a broader strategy for AstraZeneca of using digital health to complement pharmaceutical treatments.
“Empowering patients with this smartphone-based app gives them greater control of their treatment and management of their response," Antoine Yver, head of oncology in the Global Medicines Development division at AstraZeneca, said in a statement. "The support it provides can further reduce medication dose modification and discontinuation rates and help maintain patients on therapy to improve their treatment outcome.”
Voluntis launched a similar partnership with Roche back in September. In that case, the two worked together on an app for patients with breast cancer. Voluntis has also developed apps for hemophilia, coagulation, and diabetes, one of its main focus areas. Voluntis raised $29 million in April with goal of bringing its European diabetes management system Diabeo to the United States.
Another pharma company, Daichii-Sankyo, is also developing a companion app to a therapeutic, with Partners Healthcare, in this case for atrial fibrillation. That app is different from the Voluntis offerings in that it's not designed as a companion for a particular drug or combination of drugs, but will work with any anticoagulant.