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New Novartis MS app will turn up the heat on its rivals

Patients can use SymTrac iPhone app to track symptoms and relapses on their current treatment

Novartis SynTrac iPhone app MS multiple sclerosis 

Novartis UK has launched a new mobile app that will allow patients with multiple sclerosis to track their MS symptoms and relapses.

If the app gains sufficient traction among patients it will also provide healthcare professionals with real world evidence on how well particular treatments - such as Novartis' own Gilenya (fingolimod), for example - suit particular patients.

The new SymTrac mobile app can be used to record a patient's MS symptoms, general wellbeing, the medications they're taking and other potential influences, such as the weather.

In doing this it's arguably similar to any of the patient diary apps that have long been a mainstay of pharma's use of mobile technology, but SymTrac looks like it would have particular utility as a 'treatment switch' tool, though Novartis is keen for it to be used by anyone with MS - whether receiving medication or not.

However, while its data will be privately stored on the user's phone, and not accessible to Novartis, the company does hope it will form the basis of discussions between patients and their healthcare professionals.

“The data recorded can be viewed in easy-to-read charts and printed-off to share with MS healthcare professionals during appointments to support decision making,” Novartis said.

The importance of this is that such appointments can be up to 12 months apart, making it extremely hard to recall symptom details without some form of memory aid.

The app's medical steering group was led by Dr Martin Duddy, a consultant neurologist at Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary.

“We need to have a clear picture of whether or not multiple sclerosis patients are experiencing relapses, as relapses of any severity are a sign of active disease,” he said.

“The decision to start or change an MS treatment is largely determined by whether or not someone is having relapses, so we need a full picture if we are going to get people on the right medicines to reduce the chance of them developing fixed disability.”

Dr Duddy led a study that last year found nearly half (46 per cent) of people with MS surveyed experienced a relapse but did not report it, despite the negative 'domino effect' relapses can have on a patient's health, financial security and support networks.

The free SymTrac app is initially available as an iPhone app, with an Android version due to be released over the summer. In the meantime, or for those patients without a smartphone, a paper- based symptom tracker can be downloaded from Novartis' www.symtrac.com website.

The website is part of Novartis' relapse educational campaign, whose other educational resources include DVD information for patients, and a best practice guide and study days for MS specialist nurses.

29th April 2014

From: Marketing

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