Startup partners with AstraZeneca on smart inhalers ahead of Aussie IPO

Melbourne, Australia-based Adherium has pulled off a major pharma partnership just ahead of a proposed listing on the Australian Stock Exchange. It expects to list on Aug. 26, raising up to $35 million and at least $20 million. A new deal that the smart inhaler player just disclosed with AstraZeneca ($AZN) can only enhance its public market prospects.

Under the new partnership, Adherium will supply AstraZeneca with innovative new devices and sensors to incorporate into its chronic pulmonary obstructive disorder (COPD) and asthma patient support programs. Adherium has a line-up of Smart Inhalers, some of which are FDA cleared and others that the company says don't require review by the agency.

"These agreements represent a major advance in the treatment and management of respiratory disease, and will make a fundamental difference to the quality of life for people with asthma and COPD," Adherium Managing Director and CEO Garth Sutherland said in a statement.

AstraZeneca has already used Adherium devices in clinical trials and evaluations, including a pilot study. The startup said that at least 14 journal articles based on data generated using its technology have been in peer-reviewed publications.

Initially, the tech will be used to monitor patient use of therapy and to offer personalized advice to them based on medication usage and their conditions. The partners expect to be able to incorporate additional sensors to monitor patient condition as well as to assess risk factors.

Adherium's SmartTouch inhaler--Courtesy of Adherium

Adherium has found that fewer than half of asthma patients adhere to prescribed preventative medications. Its Adherium Smartinhaler has been shown to improve asthma patient adherence rates by up to 59% in adults and 180% with children, the company said. In clinical testing, that has translated into a reduction of severe episodes by 60%.

The company was founded in 2001; it started the first clinical testing of its Smart Inhaler in 2003. The financial details of the AstraZeneca deal remained undisclosed.

The deal comes just as competitor Propeller Health disclosed that the FDA has cleared a similar smart device for use with a GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) drug. It had said previously that its device and related tech are FDA-cleared for use with a Boehringer Ingelheim inhaler as well. Adherium acknowledges Propeller as a competitor in its IPO prospectus, along with CoheroHealth and Gecko Health Innovations.

On the AstraZeneca deal, Adherium chairman Dr. Doug Wilson concluded, "This partnership signifies a change in the way we approach the treatment of respiratory disease. By providing objective and accurate data on a patient's medication usage, we can now for the first time develop treatment plans tailored to each patient, and in doing so dramatically improve their quality of life."

- here is the release
- and here is the IPO prospectus

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