In latest biopharma-med tech pairing, Teva snaps up respiratory compliance tracker Gecko

CareTRx Journal App--Courtesy of CareTRx

In the latest move by a biopharma into med tech, Teva Pharmaceutical ($TEVA) will acquire respiratory disease compliance startup Gecko Health Innovations for an undisclosed sum. This gives Teva its own in-house medication compliance tracking capabilities--and takes one of a handful of high-profile startups in this area off the market.

Gecko competitor Propeller Health has received a lot of attention from the media--as it works to demonstrate that its medication tracking inhaler tech can help improve patient outcomes in indications such as asthma. Also on the list of Gecko comps is recent Aussie IPO company Adherium, as well as Cohero Health. In July, Propeller Health got FDA clearance to sell its sensor and digital health platform in association with GlaxoSmithKline's ($GSK) Diskus dry powder inhaler for asthma and COPD.

Cambridge, MA-based Gecko was founded in 2012. It is initially focused on asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It started out with GeckoCap in 2013, but replaced it with CareTRx earler this year. Pronounced "care-tracks," this chronic respiratory disease product offers remote patient monitoring and real-time medication adherence tools. It includes an inhaler-based sensor and an accompanying smart device app.

CareTRx sensor for inhalers--Courtesy of CareTRx

As for Teva, it's gaining a competitive tool and positioning itself to bring technology that's been largely reserved for clinical trials into everyday use by its customers. Industry observers expect to see a lot more integration of med tech into biopharma, as relationships start to move beyond clinical trial partnering into patient usage. Earlier this month, biopharma Biogen ($BIIB) declared that it would invest in wearable and ingestible technology, while Otsuka and Proteus filed with the FDA for the first approval of a drug that incorporates ingestible adherence tracking.

"The acquisition of Gecko Health Innovations further enhances Teva's ability to develop and deliver truly patient-centered solutions by utilizing eConnected, data-driven technology to improve the management of respiratory diseases," said President and CEO of Teva Global Specialty Medicines Dr. Rob Koremans in a statement.

The specialty and generic drug company had $257 million in respiratory drug sales last quarter. This was led by rescue inhaler ProAir and daily asthma inhaler QVAR. The former accounted for more than half of that revenue, but shrank by 4% compared to the same quarter a year prior. However, the latter grew by 12% to hit $83 million in second quarter sales. Overall, respiratory products accounted for roughly 12% of Teva sales last quarter.

Concluded Teva President of Global R&D and CSO Michael Hayden, "Teva is committed to optimizing respiratory care through the development of new therapies and novel delivery systems to better serve patients living with respiratory conditions."

- here is the Teva/Gecko announcement