Boehringer, Eli Lilly aim to educate diabetics with iPad game

As part of a broad partnership to advance diabetes treatments, Boehringer Ingelheim and Eli Lilly ($LLY) have unveiled an educational effort with an online video game called Complications Combat.

Video games have become an increasingly popular way for drugmakers to reach patients and other stakeholders in healthcare. Last year Boehringer launched a Facebook game called Syrum that lets players operate a pharma lab, educating them about the challenges of drug development in the process. Biogen Idec ($BIIB) offers memory games on a website for the multiple sclerosis community.

Complications Combat comes amid soaring rates of diabetes and video game playing. Diabetes affects more than 25 million Americans and that number is growing. At the same time, people spend more than 3 billion hours per week playing video games and the industry for the games has been booming, according to this article from Fast Company.

Lilly and Boehringer, which joined forces in a major diabetes collaboration in 2011, have made iPad and desktop versions of Complication Combat available for free. Rather than make money from the game, the companies aim to educate patients and perhaps even physicians about things that improve or worsen the disease. It's a very basic game that can be taught and played in a matter of minutes here. If only managing Type 2 diabetes were so easy.

"The aim and design of the game is simple," Arnd Prilipp, launch and established products CVM Boehringer Ingelheim, said in a statement. "However, effective management of type 2 diabetes and its complications is not."

Researchers from Baylor College of Medicine and elsewhere have studied whether computer games can impact the behaviors of patients with diabetes. It's unclear whether the games work.

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