GSK, Propeller Health partner to study smart inhalers for asthma, COPD drugs

Fierce 15 company Propeller Health has announced an R&D collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK), under which it will design and manufacture a custom sensor for the Ellipta inhaler to be used in GSK clinical studies of asthma and COPD.

The goal is to track patient adherence and its study its relationship to safety, efficacy and health economics by automatically collecting and recording usage data (namely the time and date) and wirelessly sending it a central repository for analysis by GSK researchers.

"We continue to find new and better ways to conduct clinical trials by exploring novel patient centered outcomes through strategic collaborations. Using innovative sensor technology to improve the quality of adherence data collected during our studies will advance our understanding of disease and inform our decision-making in the development of new medicines," said Dave Allen, GSK's senior vice president of respiratory R&D, in a statement.

CVS Health ($CVS) CEO Larry Merlo has said that nonadherence with doctors' orders about the frequency of medication usage and dosage is costing the healthcare system about $300 billion per year in unnecessary costs. And the problem is especially severe for inhalers because of the added problem of improper usage stemming from poor technique.

The alliance adds to the growing adoption of med tech in clinical trials, especially pharmaceutical ones. The Scripps Translational Science Institute has just launched a study of up to 6,100 patients using a wearable patch for continuous cardiovascular monitoring that's intended to identify asymptomatic atrial fibrillation patients, who are vulnerable to stroke.

Meanwhile, Biogen ($BIIB) has said measurements‚Äč from a wearable device could replace the 25-minute walk tests in trials on multiple sclerosis, a therapeutic area that the company knows a lot about thanks to its blockbuster medicine, Tecfidera. And in August, Roche ($RHHBY) said it will use an internally developed smartphone app to monitor the progress of patients during a Phase I clinical trial of its Parkinson's candidate.

Propeller Health has previously benefited from the convergence of med tech and Big Pharma. This year it picked up FDA clearance to use its sell its sensor and digital health platform for commercial use with GSK Diskus dry powder inhaler for asthma and COPD, and Boehringer Ingelheim's Respimat inhaler for COPD.

The company's current system of sensors, enabling "smart inhalers" are 30% smaller than the original version and has an 18-month battery life without charging. The system's mobile app gives personalized information, reminding patients to use their inhalers and telling physicians when an individual uses their rescue inhaler more frequently. And all this information is collected without extra work from physicians and patients, CEO David Van Sickle previously told FierceMedicalDevices.

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