Brain training: Merck KGaA and HappyNeuron partner on new program for MS patients

Merck KGaA

Merck KGaA is boosting its e-health program for multiple sclerosis patients in a deal with a brain training industry pioneer.

The German pharma has teamed up with HappyNeuron on a cognitive remediation program created specifically for Merck's MSdialog platform. The program initially includes 10 interactive exercises that target functions impaired by MS.

"Each game provides 10 levels specially selected along with Professor Anat Achiron (director of the Multiple Sclerosis Center at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv) to help patients progress during the training. The difficulty progressively increases as long as the patient obtains good results. The purpose is to encourage the patient, but to put him/her in the limit of his/her comfort zone," Franck Tarpin-Bernard, CEO at HappyNeuron, told FiercePharmaMarketing in an email interview.

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Healthcare practitioners can assign the program to patients and follow their progress over the three-month course through MSdialog. The Merck platform is currently available in 24 countries, and the HappyNeuron MS add-on will be added first in Brazil, Argentina, Israel, France and the Netherlands. The new program is launching with executive function, mental imagery, and visual spatial training, but HappyNeuron plans to add new exercises to train other functions affected by MS, Tarpin-Bernard said.

Merck KGaA is hoping the pact will help boost Rebif, a treatment for relapsing MS. The med--an anchor in its portfolio--has struggled in the face of newer oral competition from rivals Biogen, Novartis and Sanofi.

"We have a long-standing commitment to delivering therapeutic and support solutions to people living with MS," said Rehan Verjee, chief marketing and strategy officer of Merck's biopharma business, in a press release. "The platform will enhance the attractiveness of MSdialog to patients and HCPs by seeking to address these cognitive deficit symptoms and further fostering the monitoring of the cognitive state of patients."

- see the press release

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