Pfizer working with Finnish tech startup to improve patient adherence

The pharmaceutical giant will offer Popit’s pill detection device to rheumatoid arthritis patients.
By Tammy Lovell
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Pfizer app

Only around 50% of patients with long-term illnesses adhere to their treatment, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

To help combat this, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has teamed up with Finnish health tech startup Popit to provide support to people taking rheumatoid arthritis medication.

Pfizer patients will be offered Popit’s adherence solution, which monitors pill-taking with a smart device and alerts users via an app if they forget to take their medication.

The scheme will initially be rolled out to 1,000 people in Finland, Sweden and Norway, with discussions ongoing about eventually expanding to other countries in central Europe.

Currently, health professionals are being educated on the project and the first patients are expected to receive the solution in September.

Selected patients will be able to pick up the Popit device for free from either their pharmacy or health clinic.

WHY IT MATTERS

Pfizer decided to focus on rheumatoid arthritis patients after doing a ‘deep dive’ into their treatment journey and discovering they were not receiving sufficient support in coping with the condition.

The collaboration aims to support the proper implementation of patients’ drug treatment.

“We want to increase the patient’s commitment to their treatment and also improve adherence so that treatment outcomes are better,” explains Popit cofounder, Timo Heikkilä.

“What is really game-changing with Popit’s solution is that it can be easily deployed for masses. There are no special requirements to the packaging and the device and app are very user friendly,” he adds.

WHAT’S THE TREND

Popit launched in 2017 with $1.4m (€1.2m approx.) seed financing from a funding round led by Nordic VC, Butterfly Ventures.

The startup has previously carried out studies with birth control users and is now running a research pilot into patients taking novel oral anticoagulants (NOACs) and medication for type 2 diabetes.

“We feel we can bring a lot of value for pharma, insurance and pharmacy chains and are in discussions with several major companies about leveraging our solution for their customers,” says Heikkilä.

ON THE RECORD

 “It’s important for Pfizer Finland to be involved in enabling effective support services for patients and we’re happy to cooperate with Popit,” said Pekka Lehmus, a customer solution lead for inflammation and immunology at Pfizer.

Teemu Piirainen, Popit cofounder and CEO, said: “Working with one of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies Pfizer, opens the way to helping a large number of patients worldwide. This is a big issue for a small Finnish startup.

“From the outset, we have started to seek global markets and our partnership with Pfizer tells us that this strategy has been successfully implemented.”