Pear Therapeutics to explore GI indications with its latest pharma partnership

A new exploratory collaboration with Ironwood Pharmaceuticals comes just a couple weeks after the digital therapeutics startup ended a commercialization relationship with Novartis' Sandoz.
By Dave Muoio
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Pear Therapeutics has announced a new deal with Ironwood Pharmaceuticals that will explore the platform’s potential for patients with certain gastrointestinal (GI) conditions.

“We are excited to be partnering with Ironwood on this initiative and believe there is a compelling clinical rationale for use of [prescription digital therapeutics] in treating GI diseases,” Dr. Corey McCann, president and CEO of Pear Therapeutics, said in a statement. “This represents an important step for Pear and broadens our pipeline to diseases outside the central nervous system and into a range of chronic conditions.”

GI conditions have actually been listed as a therapeutic area interest in Pear’s online product pipeline for some time, although work in that focus has so far been internal and limited to the discovery phase. So far, Pear has only brought its products for substance use disorder and opioid use disorder to market.

WHY IT MATTERS

This new pharma deal will certainly draw some comparisons with Pear’s recently interrupted commercialization partnership with Novartis’ Sandoz, but in reality the collaboration seems to be more in line with a different arrangement between the two companies that was focused on the development for digital therapeutics for multiple sclerosis and schizophrenia.

Still, it’s worth highlighting the fact that Pear is still very interested in working with pharmas after the breakup. However, the jury is still out on whether the startup is truly self-sufficient in terms of digital therapeutics distribution, as it seemed to imply a couple weeks ago, or if new arrangements with Ironwood Pharmaceuticals or others will be cropping up as new therapeutics become more established.

THE LARGER TREND

The Pear-Sandoz breakup could be seen as something of an outlier, as many digital health companies and pharmas are launching new collaborations in the spirit of what was announced this morning. Further, analysts and executives alike are anticipating that these partnerships will proliferate in the years to come, although there might be a few bumps and hiccups along the way.

On the other end of the spectrum is Akili Interactive Labs, which has been very outspoken about its decision to buck traditional licensing agreements for its upcoming video game-like therapeutic. So far the company is limiting its deals to those that will allow it to retain control of distribution, data collection and other key considerations.