Merck KGaA, Huma collab bears fruit with launch of bladder cancer patient support app

Just a few months after announcing their team-up, Merck KGaA and Huma Therapeutics have already checked off the first item on their joint to-do list.

When they first pulled back the curtain on their partnership in November, the duo laid out plans to launch a “digital solution” aimed at helping cancer patients better understand their treatments, with the first iteration slated to focus on patients with urothelial carcinoma in the U.K. and to roll out sometime this year.

And that’s exactly what they’ve done: Merck and Huma announced Monday that their bladder cancer treatment companion app is now available in the U.K. They’re planning to expand its reach into other geographic markets throughout this year, and that expansion may also come with support for additional types of cancer, according to the release.

The app is designed to guide bladder cancer patients through their often-complex treatment plans by providing educational content about common treatments and available support services, which they can then use to have more productive conversations with their doctors and to stay motivated throughout the treatment process. The software also encourages them to stay connected to their support networks. In addition, patients can use the app to track their day-to-day symptoms and progress.

Merck and Huma said they worked with healthcare professionals and patient organizations to develop the app and also tapped several of those organizations and cancer care centers to help pilot the software before its official launch.

“Although there is a wealth of knowledge available to patients through various websites, patients may understandably want a reliable source of information through a single portal,” Joachim Chan, M.D., a consultant clinical oncologist at Liverpool’s Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, said in a statement. “This app will give clear informative summaries of the treatment options available for patients and relatives to absorb so that they can approach treatment with a more positive mindset, and by being well informed about the effects that treatment may have on them, it would help facilitate them to continue with their day-to-day living.”

This is the latest in Huma’s string of high-profile pharma collabs. The digital health tech maker has a long-standing relationship with Bayer, with whom it launched an online heart disease screening tool on the Bayer Aspirin website last year.

Meanwhile, Huma has also worked closely with AstraZeneca. The drugmaker has thrown its financial support behind the software developer and, in 2022, simultaneously sold its Amaze disease management platform to Huma and signed a collaboration deal with the company to work together to expand the platform and launch companion apps focused on patient support.