Medication adherence. Clinical trial market map. Pharma's business.
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Smart bottle poppin'

The other day I was casually flipping through the Tiffany catalog as I normally do, and I found the cure to medication adherence (kidding).

Since digital health has been a category, one of the most common beliefs has been that medication adherence can be improved with smart boxes, smart pill bottles, etc. by reminding people to take their meds. We've seen lots of startups get funded in this area.

Except now studies seem to say this isn't the case. Maybe just sending people a reminder actually isn't that helpful by itself.

But this week there was an interesting development. The first digital pill from Proteus and Otsuka called Abilify MyCite was approved by the FDA. It combines the anti-psychotic drug Abilify with an ingestible sensor that communicates with a patch, which also monitors vitals from a patient. This is a big milestone for Proteus, which has raised more than $400M since 2004 (if you're in digital health, you're playing the long game).

Abilify as a candidate was probably a deliberate choice. The blockbuster drug went off-patent in 2014 and generics started entering the market the following year (which Otsuka tried to fight but lost). This is obviously worrisome considering Abilify is one of the best-selling drugs in the US with more than $7B in sales a year at one point.

As pharma companies struggle with more and more generics coming out, some of these previously money-making drugs are becoming commodities. How do you differentiate a commodity? One way is by adding services. 

This is where Abilify MyCite fits in. The drug now has a services aspect baked in with caregivers/practitioners able to reach out if they there are issues while they monitor you. Adherence is no longer just a text to your phone, it's someone other than yourself holding you accountable.

This is an evolution of the pharma industry as a whole towards services and outcomes - which we've talked about before. This can also be a way for pharma companies to form relationships with patients after they take their drugs, and get valuable data about how patients react to the medications. Otsuka plans to get anonymized, aggregated data back from patients that consent. 

Clinical Trials 2.0

Medication adherence can also be a hassle for clinical trials. It's one area we highlighted in our new market map for expert research clients about companies aiming to change the pharma R&D process.

These companies are making it easier to test new compounds and therapies - the biotech "stack" of tomorrow is being built.

Stay healthy,


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This Week in Digital Health

A curated mix of recent articles on digital health financings, exits, announcements, hirings, partnerships & perspectives.

Notable Deals

Collective Medical Series A. Collective Medical, a developer of care collaboration technologies, raised a $47.5M Series A led by Kleiner Perkins with participation from Bessemer Venture Partners and Kaiser Permanente Ventures, among others.
Business Wire

Syapse Series D. Syapse, a precision oncology software platform, raised a $30M Series D from investors including Amgen Ventures, Ascension Ventures, GE Ventures, Intermountain Healthcare, and Roche Venture Fund, among others.
PR Newswire

Deepwise Series A. Beijing-based Deepwise, a provider of AI-enabled clinical imaging software solutions, raised a $22.6M Series A from investors including Dalton Venture, Danhua Capital, FengHe Fund Management, and Tendence Capital.
PE Daily

Natural Cycles Series B. Natural Cycles, the first certified fertility app in Europe, raised a $30M Series B from, EQT Ventures, Sunstone Capital, and Bonnier Growth Media. 

Phreesia Series F. Phreesia, which designs platforms for revenue management, appointment booking, and care coordination, raised a $17M Series F from Ascension Ventures, HLM Venture Partners, Optum Partners, LLR Partners, and Polaris Partners.

1M Data Series B. Beijing-based 1M Data, a developer of EMRs and chronic disease management services, raised a $15M Series B from Guozhong Venture Capital Management.
China Money Network

Yidebang Series A. Beijing-based Yidebang, a developer of healthcare software for the medical and pharmaceutical industries, raised a $9M Series A from Frontline BioVentures and Marathon Venture Partners.
PE Daily

Health IQ Series C. Health IQ, a life insurance startup providing discounts to consumers with healthy lifestyles, raised a $34.6M Series C led by Andreessen Horowitz with participation from Charles River Ventures, First Round Capital, Foundation Capital, and others.

Medigate raises seed. Israel-based Medigate, developers of a cybersecurity platform for networked medical devices, raised $5.35M in seed funding from YL Ventures and Blumberg Capital.

Cadens Medical Imaging acquired. Cadens, a developer of medical imaging software for cancer care, was acquired by Montreal-based healthcare AI company Imagia.
PR NEwswire


Proteus Digital Health receives FDA Approval. On Monday the FDA approved the first ever pill with embedded sensors used to track medication ingestion. The pill, called Abilify MyCite, combines sensor technology developed by Proteus with the antipsychotic Abilify developed by Otsuka.

Humana, J&J announce startup competitions. Humana's Innovation Challenge is open to startups focused on simplifying EMR data while Johnson & Johnson's Digital Beauty QuickFire Challenge is geared towards digital skin care tools.

Cardiogram presents heart data. Cardiogram, an AI heart monitoring startup, presented data at a recent American Heart Association meeting showing that their app, when combined with the Apple Watch, is also able to detect high blood pressure and sleep apnea.

Cota + Sloan Kettering. Memorial Sloan Kettering has entered into a 5-year exlusive partnership with precision medicine company Cota during which MSK will use Cota's Nodal Address classification system to improve patient care and accelerate research efforts.

CarePredict expands. CarePredict, which sells AI-enabled wearable monitoring devices for seniors, announced it will be deploying its technology at a new LifeWell Senior Living facility in Santa Fe, New Mexico. This will be the 3rd LifeWell facility to deploy CarePredict's devices.
PR Newswire

UnitedHealthcare debuts concierge service. UnitedHealthcare has introduced a personalized concierge service for people enrolled in their Medicare Advantage plans. The service, called Navigate4Me, features health navigators who help address people's healthcare questions and create personalized care plans.

Zebra Medical Vision uses Google. Zebra Medical Vision, a deep learning imaging startup, will be moving all of its current and future radiology algorithms to the Google Cloud as part of its new AI1 offering. The company plans to provide all of its tools for $1/scan.
HIT Consultant

Telemedicine for vets. On Tuesday the House of Representatives passed the Veterans E-Health and Telemedicine Support (VETS) Act of 2017 which would allow physicians within the VA health system to practice telemedicine across state lines.

DJ Patil joins Venrock. DJ Patil, former Chief Data Scientist of the United States, has joined Venrock as an Advisor to the firm. DJ will be advising portfolio companies on healthcare, security, data, and consumer internet challenges.

Articles & Perspectives

Healthcare versus financial disruption. Lisa Suennen (@VentureValkyrie), Senior Managing Director of GE Ventures, discusses the differences between healthcare and financial disruption. Among other examples, she points out that banking information is readily transferable at the touch of a button while health data remains famously difficult to share between parties.

Putting the microbiome to work. The genomes of microbes in the human gut amount to about 150x the number of genes in the human genome. While the study of these microbes has typically been connected to advances in gastroenterology, startups such as Enterome are now studying the connection of the microbiome to cancer.

View from Puerto Rico. Obstetrician-gynecologist Dr. Carmen Zorrilla recounts her experience working at the Puerto Rico Medical Center in San Juan during the recent Hurricane Maria. As of 16 days after the hurricane, 23 hospitals were functional, only 9.2% of people had power, 54% had water, and 45% had cell phone service.
New England Journal of Medicine
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