Pharma insight on digital marketing, social media, mobile apps, online video, websites and interactive healthcare tools
by Dominic Tyer
Novartis is developing a new, connected version of its COPD inhaler that will provide patients with near real-time data on their use of the device.
The next-generation Breezhaler falls within the pharma firm's collaboration with Qualcomm, whose Qualcomm Life subsidiary provides wireless solutions for the management of chronic diseases and sharing of medical information.
Novartis plans a 2019 launch for the new device, which will be available for its COPD portfolio of Onbrez, Breezhaler Seebri, and Ultibro Breezhaler.
The company hopes the device will improve medication adherence and - ultimately - health outcomes for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Head of Novartis Pharmaceuticals David Epstein said: "Novartis supports patients being empowered to make it easier for them to manage their chronic conditions.
“By enabling near real-time data capture from the patient and the connected Breezhaler device, patients can monitor their own adherence to the medication they take which is vital to their health outcomes."
The device will have a small, disposable and low power module that can detect and report usage, the time the inhaler is used, as well as additional relevant information for patients and physicians.
This module then wirelessly sends the data to the patient's smartphone and a Novartis COPD mobile application, which in turns sends the data to the cloud, allowing patients - and potentially their healthcare providers - to monitor their COPD.
The connected device will be ready for use by patients, with no assembly required and should be ready in three years time, subject to manufacturing, testing and regulatory approvals.
Novartis hopes the device will allow it to claim an industry-first as the first company in respiratory medicine to offer “a completely integrated, connected delivery device to provide a seamless, easy to use and simple experience for patients”.
Qualcomm Life is developing the reference design for a module that will provide the inhaler's connectivity and this will seamlessly connect with its cloud-based 2net platform.
Rick Valencia, senior vice president and general manager at Qualcomm Life, said: “This is an exciting time for healthcare as we see the proliferation of the Internet of Medical Things.
“Through our expanded collaboration with Novartis, we are able to deliver a frictionless digital health experience to their COPD patients.”
The announcement marks an expansion of Novartis' involvement with Qualcomm and follows its formation of a digital health investment company with Qualcomm Ventures.
That January 2015 deal came hard on the heels of the Novartis' collaboration with Qualcomm Life on the 'Trials of The Future' programme, which is designed to use healthcare technology to improve the experience of clinical trial participants.