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Novo Nordisk will work with IBM on diabetes care

Development of digital platform to help diabetics and their doctors manage their illness

Novo Nordisk headquarters 

Novo Nordisk has partnered with IBM to develop a digital platform to help diabetics and their doctors manage their illness.

The project combines the world's biggest diabetes drug producer with IBM's recently-formed Watson Health unit, which applies artificial intelligence to analyse and apply healthcare data gleaned from a variety of sources, which can include clinical records, research and even social media.

Watson has already formed a string of partnerships with life sciences companies such as Sanofi, Medtronic, Johnson & Johnson and Teva, and will work with Novo Nordisk to develop improved diabetes care based on "insights from real-time, real-world evidence of … diabetes treatments and devices".

The Danish drugmaker's executive vice president Jakob Riis said the project would allow it to "explore the opportunities presented by an increasingly digitalised healthcare system". The financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

The project envisages collating data on blood sugar levels, food intake and medicine usage - all uploaded to the cloud in real-time - that will be analysed to allow care to be refined and improved and potentially be used to provide evidence of treatment effectiveness to healthcare payers. The information could then be used to feed advice back to patients. 

IBM Watson Health's earlier collaboration with Medtronic is also in the area of diabetes and is aimed at delivering personalised treatments for diabetics using data collated from the company's medical devices, which include glucose monitors and insulin pumps.

The collaboration is the latest signal that pharma is taking on board suggestions that 'big data' - harnessing the exploding amount of information created in our increasingly digitised and connected world - could hold the key to revolutionising R&D and accelerating productivity - as laid out in a McKinsey & Co report published in 2013.

IBM Watson Health's general manager Deborah DiSanzo said her company will help Novo Nordisk "create new e-health solutions on the Watson Health Cloud - accessing cognitive computing to help personalise care". Watson will also analyse data it already holds on 50m US medical records as part of the initiative, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Article by
Phil Taylor

11th December 2015

From: Research

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