AstraZeneca spins up new partnership with Propeller Health to add smart features to its Symbicort inhaler

With a new clearance from the FDA, smart inhaler developer Propeller Health is bringing its connected platform to AstraZeneca’s Symbicort to help digitize the treatment of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Using small, electronic devices built to fit each company’s various inhalers and their generic equivalents, Propeller’s cloud-based system tracks medication usage through a smartphone app, which users can then use to help paint a clearer picture of disease control for their clinicians.

Alongside its previous collaborations with respiratory drugmakers GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, Orion and Boehringer Ingelheim, Propeller’s latest addition expands the reach of the former Fierce 15 winner to about 90% of inhaled medicines for asthma and COPD in the U.S.

“Our partnership with AstraZeneca will give respiratory patients a tool to help manage their condition and increase their medication adherence, a critical factor in keeping people out of the hospital,” said Propeller co-founder and CEO David Van Sickle. 

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“This is an important step in transforming the way people receive preventative care, enabling self-management from home and ensuring that providers have the bandwidth to focus on high-risk patients,” Van Sickle added.

Studies by the company have shown that digitally tracking each puff from an inhaler can increase medication adherence and control of asthma while reducing hospital and emergency room visits. 

Propeller was acquired in January of last year by ResMed for $225 million, alongside a new partnership with Walgreens that allowed people to start refilling their inhaler prescriptions through its app.

Since then, Propeller has added digital pharmacy services from CVS, Walmart, Kroger and Rite Aid. Together, those five providers represent more than half of the U.S. market for prescription drug sales.