AstraZeneca ponies up for heart-attack patients with new Vida Health app

AstraZeneca ($AZN) is pledging its pocketbook in a new health-coaching push for heart attack patients. The partnership with Vida Health, via an app dubbed "Day by Day," puts cardiac rehab patients in touch with coaches to encourage them to adopt a healthy diet, take their meds, manage stress and stick to their exercise prescriptions.

It's a $45-per-month service, or $249 per year. That could be a hefty sum for AstraZeneca to pay, depending on how many patients sign on. And the app won't even bear the drugmaker's brand name. In fact, it's designed to be product-agnostic, so it works with other companies' drugs as well as AstraZeneca's own.

For AstraZeneca, it's a way to track how patients use their meds as they're recovering from a heart attack. Studies and surveys have shown that even after such a serious CV event, patients can be bad at taking their prescribed meds. Sticking to diet and exercise programs--particularly beyond the doctor-ordered rehab--is even less consistent.

AstraZeneca VP John McCarthy

"This program represents our commitment to impacting health outcomes in ways beyond the medicines we make, to creating more holistic, personalized, two-way engagements with patients during times when they need it most," AstraZeneca VP John McCarthy said in a statement (as quoted by TechCrunch).

The Vida partnership is the second time this year that AstraZeneca has teamed up with a digital health company. In April, the company said it would tap data gathered by the patient-based network PatientsLikeMe to gather intel for drug development and ideas for improving patient outcomes.

Vida sees the partnership as a chance to build a platform for chronic care, TechCrunch reports. "That's the single biggest cost-driver of health care in the country, and we really believe that continuous management of chronic conditions will significantly lower cost," CEO Stephanie Tilenius told the tech-focused website.

That sounds a lot like drugmakers' own ideas about chronic diseases, particularly as payers press for proof that drugs work as promised. Pharma-watchers figure that the industry will increasingly turn to packages of products and services, shifting away from a focus on scripts to a "beyond-the-pill" approach.

AstraZeneca markets a variety of CV drugs, including the clot-fighter Brilinta, which is prescribed to heart attack patients to prevent a repeat attack or other complications. CEO Pascal Soriot has tagged Brilinta as a big growth product, and the company scored some promising outcomes data from a trial unveiled earlier this year. That study showed that patients taking Brilinta after a heart attack for two years fared better than those who stuck to the drug for one year.

If AstraZeneca can turn the data into real-world use, that could help push Brilinta sales to a hoped-for $3 billion. The new use is under fast-track review at the FDA, with a decision due this quarter. Armed with a brand-new indication, AstraZeneca could further fire up its Brilinta marketing push, which already includes a bigger salesforce and more promotional spending. It already includes some results, too; the drug brought in $131 million in the first quarter, up 45% year over year. Adding an outcomes-focused app? That might help, too.

- see the TechCrunch story

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