With Quintiles collaboration, AZ joins its fiercest COPD rivals in smart-inhaler land

Not enough drugmakers on the “smart inhaler” bandwagon for you? Well, go ahead and add AstraZeneca to the list.

The British pharma giant is teaming up with Quintiles on a clinical trial to test whether mobile medication reminders help COPD patients stick to their dosing. And it’s using BreathMate--a patient support tool connected to inhalers for its respiratory star Symbicort--to do it.

Each of two groups in the study will use inhalers connected to BreatheMate, which will automatically detect and log patients’ Symbicort use. Patients in the experimental arm will also receive audio-visual daily reminders on the device—consisting of beeps and flashes--to take their medication, according to clinicaltrials.gov. The study has not yet begun recruiting.

Smart inhaler tech isn’t new to AstraZeneca, mobihealthnews notes. In the past, the company has worked with New Zealand’s Adherium on COPD adherence.

And it’s hardly new to AZ’s competitors. In May, the U.K.’s Vectura joined hands with Wisconsin’s Propeller Health to develop an add-on sensor for its lever-operated multidose inhaler. That deal followed inhaler tech collaborations from GlaxoSmithKline, Boehringer Ingelheim and Novartis.

Those are the very companies that AZ needs to rival if its respiratory unit is going to play a big role in driving sales to the lofty $45 billion target CEO Pascal Soriot has set for 2023. In the U.S., Symbicort is battling Glaxo giant Advair and its follow-up, Breo, a med that’s gaining steam. And Advair generics are on the horizon, with Mylan and others racing for regulatory approval.

On its home continent, AstraZeneca already has Symbicort generics to worry about, courtesy of Teva. It’s also facing Advair knockoff AirFluSal Forspiro from Novartis’ Sandoz. And then there’s Boehringer, which is working to keep pace.

Meanwhile, AZ is using tech to try to get ahead in other COPD drug classes, too. It recently snagged a U.S. go-ahead for LAMA/LABA Bevespi Aerosphere, and it’s confident the product’s new co-suspension inhaler technology--which helps keep dosing consistent for combo drugs in a single inhaler--will help set it apart.

- read the trial description on clinicaltrials.gov
- get more from mobihealthnews

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