Top Digital Healthcare News that Grabbed the Headlines

by Rajaneesh K. Gopinath
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By Rajaneesh, K. Gopinath, Ph.D.

With digital technologies impacting the realm of healthcare, big pharma and venture capitalists have started to invest heavily on new start-ups. A recent report by Global Market Insights, predicts the digital health businesses to exceed US$ 504.4 billion by 2025. Here we present some top headlines from the field that grabbed our attention.

Fitbit Collaborates with Pfizer and BMS to Combat Stroke

Back in the year 2007, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer entered a worldwide collaboration called the BMS-Pfizer Alliance that aimed to utilize the former’s growing strength in cardiovascular drug development together with the latter’s global experience in the field. The collaboration was to develop and market Eliquis® (Apixaban), an anticoagulant discovered by BMS. In 2012, it received the USFDA approval for the prevention of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation (AFib). A few years later, this led to the development and integration of a global real-world data analysis program, ACROPOLIS™ (Apixaban ExperienCe Through Real-WOrld POpuLatIon Studies) in their clinical trials involving Apixaban. The program analyzes data from de-identified medical records, health insurance claims data, and national health data systems and offers better insights in the treatment of AFib.

Recently, the alliance went one step further by announcing their partnership with the wearable technology firm Fitbit, at the TIME 100 Health Summit held in New York. The collaboration aims to develop a smart watch diagnostic device with arrhythmia detection software for the timely diagnosis of AFib and detection of patients with a higher risk of stroke. Once approved by FDA, they partners will also provide educational content and guidance to users and enable informed discussion with physicians. “We’re in a new era of healthcare, where we’re not only focused on developing treatments but also looking at the potential of technology and data to help patients learn more about their health,” said Angela Hwang, Group President, Pfizer Biopharmaceuticals Group. “We are excited about wearables and how our work with BMS and Fitbit may potentially help patients and physicians detect and understand heart rhythm irregularities.”


Sanofi Inaugurates New Digital Manufacturing Facility

Last month, Sanofi ventured into the digital therapeutics space for the first time by signing an agreement with the mental health technology company Happify Health to codevelop a software app for cognitive behavior therapy specifically for patients with
multiple sclerosis.

On October 15 th, it inaugurated a new digital manufacturing facility in Framingham, Massachusetts. This is one of the world’s first digital facilities that boasts of an intensified, continuous biologics production technology. This development is in line with the company’s goal to leverage data analysis to optimize their manufacturing processes, improve their pace and efficiency to cater to the changing patient needs, and also to efficiently market the products from their R&D pipeline. Framingham is the first of the many plants they planned to carry out their digital transformation initiatives. In the future, it would extend to Toronto (Canada), Suzano (Brazil), Waterford (Ireland), Sisteron (France), and Geel (Belgium).

“We have been investing for some years to prepare for Sanofi’s future. Our Framingham facility leads the way in delivering the next generation of biologics manufacturing, leveraging intensified, continuous processing in a fully integrated digitally powered facility,” said Philippe Luscan, Executive Vice President, Global Industrial Affairs at Sanofi. “This opening demonstrates we are at the leading edge of innovation and manufacturing excellence, helping us to shape the future of both our company and the industry.”


Novartis’ Sandoz Breaks Free from Pear’s Prescription Digital Therapeutic

In March 2018, Novartis entered into a collaboration with Pear Therapeutics to develop novel prescription digital therapeutics. These are software applications designed to effectively treat patients with schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis. But, the crowning moment of glory came when the partnership between their Sandoz division and Pear attained fruition. reSET® became the first FDA approved prescription digital therapeutic for Substance Use Disorder (SUD). Designed as a 12-week digital therapeutic to be used along with outpatient care, reSET delivered cognitive behavioral therapy using patient-friendly interactive treatment modules. This enabled clinicians to be aware of their patient’s substance use and cravings, facilitating a deeper interaction between them. Similarly, earlier this year, reSET-O(TM) received approval for the treatment of patients with Opioid Use Disorder (OUD). However, last week, both companies announced their decision to cut off ties by saying that Pear has built the commercial infrastructure necessary to solely handle the commercialization of reSET and reSET-O. This decision is said to be a consequence of the change in leadership in Sandoz, that saw CEO Richard Saynor take charge.


Cleveland Clinic, American Well Partner to Launch The Clinic™

Cleveland Clinic and Boston-based American Well have decided to take their collaboration to the next stage by launching a Cleveland-based joint venture called The Clinic™. This company will use a secure telehealth platform to deliver comprehensive care to patients around the world. “The company will offer virtual care from Cleveland Clinic’s highly specialized experts through American Well’s well-established digital health technology platform” the organizations announced in a statement.
“Digital health is one of the fastest growing segments of the healthcare industry. There is an incredible demand for medical care to be delivered in more convenient and integrated ways,” said Tom Mihaljevic, M.D., CEO, and President of Cleveland Clinic. “This new venture marks the first time that a major digital health technology platform has partnered with a globally recognized healthcare provider to deliver digital solutions for complex healthcare problems. This new digital health service will provide access to world-class Cleveland Clinic expertise and quality of care for patients in the U.S. and internationally.”

“As the adoption and value of telehealth grows, there is significant potential to further advance the digital distribution of care,” said Ido Schoenberg, M.D., Chairman and CEO, American Well. “Cleveland Clinic has long been at the forefront of offering virtual visits, and we’re thrilled to partner more closely with them to expand the frontiers for digital care delivery.”





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