Novartis funds app to boost Xolair in hives


Xolair-maker Novartis wants to create a support community for patients with chronic urticaria, or hives. And it’s funding a new mobile app and website to do it.

The platform, dubbed TARGET My Hives, allows urticaria patients to digitally connect with one another, PMLiVE’s digital intelligence blog reports--but it’s not just for patients alone. It also allows doctors who treat the condition to register their information, making it easier for patients to find them.

The Swiss drugmaker also wants to bring in patient associations and medical societies; eventually, it plans for the app to allow sufferers to follow those associations and participate in real-world research in conjunction with their doctors.

There’s plenty of reason for Novartis’ interest in bringing the urticaria community together. The company has been working to broaden the reach of Xolair, which it markets outside the U.S.; that med, which treats the skin condition in addition to severe asthma, brought in $755 million last year.

TARGET My Hives isn’t Novartis’ first effort to do so, either. Back in 2014, the company teamed up with pro photographer Rick Guidotti to launch “Skin Impressions,” a campaign meant to inspire patients to “rediscover their confidence and the freedom to touch, hug and embrace their loved ones, empowering them to strive for a skin they can truly live in." That effort featured 14 "#SkinImpressions Ambassadors" from around the world who shared their stories through images, print and YouTube interviews.

Now isn’t a bad time for Novartis to increase up its efforts behind Xolair in hives, either, considering that the drug has some new, more targeted competition in severe asthma, its original indication. Late last year, GlaxoSmithKline won EC and FDA approval for Nucala, a product that addresses asthma with eosinophilic inflammation; that condition affects 60% of severe asthma patients, GSK says.

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