Biogen is joining forces with digital health startup Happify Health to help support multiple sclerosis patients through the tech company’s AI-powered online care community Kopa.
Biogen, a major player in the MS space, will provide educational content about its therapies for the Kopa app and website, which aim to support people with MS throughout their care journey, Jason Hawbecker, Biogen’s head of strategic partnerships, told Fierce Pharma Marketing in an interview.
The platform offers a place where patients at any stage of MS can learn about treatment options, ask questions and discuss their physical and mental health with experts and others living with the disease, according to the companies. What’s different, said Hawbecker, is that Happify uses artificial intelligence to learn more about patients to personalize that support.
A patient who spends a lot of time on the Kopa platform reading articles and chatting with peers about drug side effects, for instance, might be served up content about how best to manage those symptoms, Hawbecker explained.
Biogen markets several drugs for relapsing MS, including its blockbuster pill Tecfidera and its follow-up Vumerity along with infusion treatment Tysabri and injectables Plegridy and Avonex. Helping patients stay up-to-date with the latest treatment advances and adhere to their medication regimens are among the goals of the site.
“Sometimes, an intervention at the right moment is really important,” Hawbecker said.
MS is the third disease area to be served by the Kopa platform, which Happify launched for psoriasis patients in July 2020 and expanded to include women’s health last summer.
Hawbecker, who previously led strategic partnerships at CVS Health, said Biogen pursued the collaboration as part of its strategy to “meet patients where they are in the community.”
“The patients are going to these places [such as Kopa], and they trust these communities,” he said. “We want to be there to support that.”
Although Biogen is Happify’s first pharma partner on Kopa, it is not the first drug company to work with the tech startup. In 2019, Happify teamed with Sanofi to work on a digital therapeutic to improve mental health in MS patients. And last year, it partnered with Spanish pharma Almirall on a digital wellness program for psoriasis called Claro, which it launched earlier this month in Spain, Italy and the U.K.
Happify raised $73 million in a series D round last year, which it said it would use to build out more specialized solutions for pharmaceutical companies, enterprise customers and health plans.
The New York City-based company says it combines digital therapeutics and care delivery solutions to help manage chronic conditions and aims to improve both mental and physical health.
The partnership is Biogen’s latest foray into the digital health space. In May, it announced it was working with MedRhythms to employ a music-based digital therapeutic to improve the strides of MS patients who have trouble walking.