AstraZeneca Teams Up With Digital Health Startup To Improve COPD and Asthma Outcomes


Australian pharmaceutical manufacturer AstraZeneca announces that it will team up with Adherium, a New Zealand-based digital health company, in a partnership that will bring new innovations and sensors to AstraZeneca’s growing digital patient support platform. Specifically, the partnership will aim to improve outcomes among patients with COPD and asthma, a population with traditionally poor medication adherence rates.

To combat low adherence rates, AstraZeneca will work with Adherium to provide connected inhalers capable of logging the date and time that inhalers are used by patients, and capable of sending reminders to patient’s cell phones when preventative doses are missed. Adherium has developed dozens of connected inhalers that support a wide variety of different inhaled medications. The inhalers wirelessly sync with connected iOS and Android apps, optimized for both smartphones and tablets, as well as an HTML web-based access point.

Adherium and AstraZeneca have worked together in the past to develop and validate the proposed technology, and early clinical trial results show real promise. In one study, the introduction of Adherium’s SmartInhaler technology improved medication adherence rates among asthma patients by 59 percent in adults, and 180 percent in children. The same study measured a 60 percent reduction in asthma-related severe episodes among patients using Adherium’s SmartInhaler.

Now AstraZeneca will move the project out of the clinical trial phase and offer Adherium’s SmartInhaler as a standard option to both its COPD and asthma patients. The company reports that in the future, additional sensors will be incorporated into the devices to capture additional data points, such as location and environmental air quality, to provide patient-specific warnings and recommendations.

The market for medication-connected adherence monitoring solutions is significant, with companies like Proteus Digital Health, Propeller Health,  and Vitality demonstrating that there is ample VC money,  enterprise customers, and potential acquisition opportunities waiting for startups that can navigate the regulatory hurdles and introduce a viable product capable of monitoring and improve medication adherence, passively, without requiring manual user input.

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