As we do every quarter, MobiHealthNews has rounded up our Q1 2016 coverage into a handful of longform stories. This section is on pharma. Skip ahead using these links to read Q1 digital health news roundups about providers, payers, M&A and funding.
Novartis announced a partnership with Qualcomm Life, a subsidiary of Qualcomm, to develop a connected version of its inhaler, Breezhaler, for people who have COPD. Specifically, Qualcomm Life will develop the reference design for the module that will connect the Breezhaler to the Qualcomm Life 2net platform, a hub for connecting home health devices. This platform will collect data on inhaler usage, including the duration of the patient's inhalation, which Novartis said indicates quality of the inhalation.
A month later, Novartis signed deals with two major health plans, Cigna and Aetna, to reimburse for its new heart failure drug Entresto. The deals are among the first publicly announced examples of outcomes-based drug pricing. While Novartis discussed using digital health devices as part of its planned Entresto rollout last year, reports about the new payer deals have not mentioned the prospect of including digital health tools in the mix.
And a week later, Microsoft revealed more about a partnership with Novartis that began a few years ago to create a system, called Assess MS, that better evaluates how patients perform on multiple sclerosis (MS) tests. The current MS tests require patients to perform movements, like touching their nose or sitting with their arms outstretched. Providers watch the patients and rate their movements on a scale, but ratings that providers give are somewhat subjective, according to the companies.
Glaxo, Boehringer, and more
Another pharma company, GlaxoSmithKline, also partnered with Qualcomm. According to a report in Bloomberg, GlaxoSmithKline is in talks with Qualcomm to create a new joint venture to develop medical technology. Financial Times added in its report that the JV could be worth up to $1 billion.
Digital smoking cessation company 2Morrow partnered with GlaxoSmithKline to offer the company’s Nicoderm CQ Patch to smokers who complete 2morrow’s cessation program.
Propeller Health and Boehringer Ingelheim announced a commercial partnership. Under the partnership, COPD and asthma patients using Boehringer's Respimat inhaler will have the opportunity to enroll in a program at select health systems that will monitor their adherence via a Propeller sensor and improve their engagement in their health.
Nestle is conducting a two-year clinical study with data company Medidata in China to assess the impact of physical activity and nutrition on adults with joint discomfort. The study will use Garmin fitness trackers and a mobile app.
Propeller Health announced a partnership with Aptar Pharma, a drug delivery system company, to create what the company believes will be the first-to-market integrated, connected metered dose inhaler (MDI).
The Medical Research Institute of New Zealand (MRINZ) announced that it plans to launch an multi-country clinical study, called Novel START, using New Zealand-based Adherium’s connected inhalers. In addition to New Zealand, other study sites will be in Australia, the United Kingdom, and Italy.
Pharma-related funding, M&A, hires
AiCure, announced that it had raised $12.25 million in a round led by New Leaf Venture Partners, with additional funding from Pritzker Group Venture Capital, Tribeca Venture Partners, and Biomatics Capital, established by Boris Nikolic, former Chief Advisor for Science and Technology to Bill Gates. The company has developed a smartphone camera-powered medication adherence tracking offering.
Baltimore, Maryland-based WellDoc announced a collaboration with LifeScan, a Johnson and Johnson company that makes blood glucose meters. WellDoc also raised an additional $7.5 million from Johnson & Johnson Innovation and other investors, bringing the company’s total funding in its most recent round to $29.5 million.
And Greyhealth group (ghg), a healthcare-focused agency owned by WPP that was a founding partner of Text4Baby and an early IBM Watson partner, acquired The Lathe, a health app design and development firm, for an undisclosed amount.
Recently, Quintiles, a company that helps pharmaceutical companies improve clinical trials, named Dave Tripi as its vice president of global operations. Tripi has worked at various Johnson & Johnson subsidiaries for at least 20 years. He most recently worked for Janssen Healthcare Innovation.