Bristol Myers Squibb taps Voluntis to build a digital cancer companion app

doctor in hospital hallway using smartphone
In August of last year, Voluntis received an FDA clearance for its similar, oncology-focused software-as-a-medical-device. (vectorfusionart/Shutterstock)

Bristol Myers Squibb has begun work with the Paris-based digital therapeutics developer Voluntis to create and test companion smartphone programs for cancer patients on its therapies, similar to a project previously dropped by Roche’s French pharma division. 

The app will be designed to track the at-home management of symptoms, while also providing clinicians with remote patient monitoring capabilities, through Voluntis’ Theraxium Oncology digital platform.

In addition, the app is slated to include responsive algorithms that can provide patients with recommendations for managing symptoms, based on their current course of therapy.

Following development, BMS and Voluntis plan to investigate how well the digital therapeutic provides communication to healthcare providers, symptom tracking features and personalized care plans.

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“This collaboration with Voluntis is an example of our commitment to advance patient care with digital solutions,” BMS Chief Information Officer Paul von Autenried said in a statement. “By developing new technology and patient-centered initiatives such as these, we hope to advance the standards of clinical practice.”

In August of last year, Voluntis received an FDA clearance for its similar, oncology-focused software-as-a-medical-device. The company’s Oleena app and algorithms provide users with all types of cancer adaptive and real-time symptom management advice.

Voluntis said it hopes that app will help reduce unnecessary emergency room visits, hospitalizations and interruptions in treatment. By providing on-demand directions for starting and dosing supportive therapies, the company aims to help patients self-treat the distressing yet common side effects associated with cancer therapy, such as pain, diarrhea and nausea. 

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Voluntis previously linked up with Roche Pharma France in 2015 to develop a similar digital product focused on breast cancer, named Zemy, before expanding the collaboration in March 2018 to additional solid tumors. However, the project was formally ended one year later, before the completion of its feasibility clinical studies.

The company has since gone on to maintain oncology-focused partnerships with other Big Pharmas, including in ovarian cancer with AstraZeneca, and in breast cancer with Novartis.  

Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify Voluntis' previous collaborations with Roche Pharma France, AstraZeneca and Novartis.