UK pharma Vectura is latest to work with Propeller on connected inhalers

By Jonah Comstock
01:46 pm
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Propeller Health has announced yet another collaboration with a pharmaceutical company. The Madison, Wisconsin-based company will parter with the Chippenham, UK-based Vectura Group, an independent pharma company focused exclusively on inhaler drugs for respiratory conditions.

“Digital health has the potential to make respiratory therapies more personal, powerful and convenient for every patient," Propeller Health CEO David Van Sickle said in a statement. “We are excited to work with the team at Vectura to realize these benefits in a new generation of inhalers”

Propeller will work with Vectura to develop an add-on sensor for Vectura’s lever-operated multi-dose inhaler (LOMI), a disc-shaped dry powder inhaler (DPI). Once that device is released, the companies may tackle connected strategies for other Vectura devices.

“This announcement demonstrates Vectura’s commitment to develop next generation inhalation devices that can help patients manage their respiratory diseases better,” James Ward-Lilley, CEO of Vectura, said in a statement. “Adherence to therapy is one of the major issues driving poor maintenance management of these chronic conditions. There is increasing evidence of the value of intelligent sensor technology significantly enabling a reduction of symptoms, including exacerbations and long term healthcare utilization costs. This collaboration is a first step towards Vectura embracing a connected solution for all our devices.”

This is the fourth major pharma deal for Propeller Health, which is making a big bet on connected inhalers becoming the new standard in the inhaler space. 

At the end of last year, GlaxoSmithKline and Propeller announced a partnership to develop and manufacture a custom sensor for GSK's Ellipta inhaler for COPD patients. In February Propeller teamed up with Aptar Pharma to create the company’s first integrated platform, which will allow pharma and generic companies that work with Propeller and Aptar to create connected versions of any drug that's currently delivered via an MDI. In March, the company expanded its original pharma partnership, with Boehringer Ingelheim, into a broader commercial deal. 

While Propeller Health has seen a lot of big deals for its partnership strategy, other pharma companies have opted to get ahead of the trend by acquiring, or investing heavily, in connected inhaler companies. Biopharmaceutical company Opko Health acquired Israeli smart inhaler company Inspiro Medical for an eight-figure sum in 2014. Teva Pharmaceuticals acquired Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Gecko Health Innovations (previously known as GeckoCap), a smart inhaler company, last September. And AstraZeneca has poured $3 million into New Zealand smart inhaler company Adherium, with which it also has a commercialization agreement. Material Matters: The Evolution of Air in Sneakers