Propeller Health is partnering up with Orion to bring its digital inhaler platform to the Finnish drugmaker’s Easyhaler line of products.
The 2015 Fierce 15 company will help develop a small, custom sensor built to fit Orion’s inhalers for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, to digitally track medication use and upload data through a smartphone app.
The move will also expand Propeller’s footprint in Europe, where Orion does business in several countries. The project includes the development of the sensor, beginning this year, and plans for subsequent clinical trials and potential real-world evidence projects.
"By connecting Easyhaler to Propeller's digital platform, we are giving our patients and their providers a new ability to improve the user experience of Easyhaler products and help patients better adhere to the treatments," said Satu Ahomäki, Orion's senior VP of commercial operations. "We are thrilled to take this step to reduce the burden of asthma and COPD via a digital companion to our medicine."
Propeller was acquired by respiratory device manufacturer ResMed late last year in a $225 million deal, with the goal of kick-starting broader international adoption of its digital medicine platform in 2019. Propeller will operate as a standalone business, with plans to maintain its product lines and partnerships with pharma and healthcare organizations, after the deal closed this past January.
Separately, a study using real-world data collected by Propeller found that 84% of asthma patients may be using their inhalers incorrectly, potentially making their medicine less effective and increasing their risk of asthma attacks.
Many asthma medicines require patients to take two inhaler puffs slowly and deeply, over the course of 30 seconds to one minute, to deliver the correct dose. However, data from over 7,500 patients found that two-thirds of people waited less than 15 seconds between inhalations, and that only 16% performed the steps over the correct amount of time.
"Doctors have known for years that many patients do not follow the recommended inhaler instructions," said David Stempel, M.D., Propeller's senior VP of medical and clinical affairs. "This is the first time we've had objective data from digital medicines to observe it outside of the clinic."
Analyzed in partnership with the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children's Hospital Colorado, the study’s results were published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice.
"Digital medicines have the potential to not only assess inhaler technique in real-time but also notify a patient when they're not using the inhaler properly and provide education and sources for training, which goes beyond what a clinician can do for the patient day-to-day," Stempel added.