Almirall enlists Happify to boost psoriasis patients' mental health with digital therapeutics

Almost one-third of people with moderate to severe psoriasis suffer from mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Almirall wants to change that through a new collaboration with Happify Health.

The Barcelona-based pharma will launch a digital wellness program called “Claro” with Happify, which develops digital therapeutics for people with chronic disease, leaning on its team of scientists, physicians and gaming experts to help people manage mental health.

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The new Almirall program will feature a user experience the company called "meaningful, dynamic and fun," and it will be delivered through the pharma company’s patient support program in the U.K., Spain, Italy and France.

Almirall chose Happify because of its demonstrated “positive impact on the mental health of patients with chronic conditions, including psoriasis, in published research,” Francesca Domenech Wuttke, Almirall’s chief digital officer, said.

The medical dermatology-focused pharma nabbed a recent approval in France for Ilumetri, an anti-IL-23p19 to treat psoriasis, with a launch expected soon. Almirall has a development and sales license for Ilumetri with Sun Pharmaceutical in Europe with launches already underway in Germany, the U.K., Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain.

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Almirall sharpened its focus in dermatology in 2018 when it acquired Allergan’s medical dermatology portfolio. The $650 million deal included brands Aczone, Tazorac, Azelex, Cordran Tape and Seysara.

Digital therapeutics, meanwhile, have been hit or miss in the pharma space, with some pioneers in the field already having moved on. Novartis ended its Pear Therapeutics partnership in 2019 after helping bring to market the first FDA-approved digital therapeutics—reSET and reSET-O for substance use disorder and opioid use disorder—and the first directly detailed by a drugmaker. At the time, Novartis' Sandoz said Pear was now able to support its own commercial operations.

Otsuka and Proteus' mental health "digital pill" partnership also dissolved last year. Otsuka now owns the digital therapeutics, including the Abilify MyCite smart pill technology, after a bankruptcy court win in August.

More digital therapeutics from Orexo launched last fall, too: Vorvida for problematic drinking and Deprexis for depression. Orexo also markets drug products including Subsolv for opioid use disorder.