Sanofi-Verily diabetes partnership is just the latest in the Internet of Medical Things trend


Will one plus one equal three for Sanofi and Verily’s new venture Onduo? That’s the plan for the announced diabetes deal, the latest pharma and tech joint venture in the emerging Internet of Medical Things space.

Stefan Oelrich, senior VP and head of the global diabetes franchise for Sanofi, said in an email to FiercePharma that the new relationship is about combining strengths. Verily (formerly Google LifeSciences) has its expertise in consumer software, analytics, low-power chip design and miniaturized electronics, while Sanofi brings diabetes treatment innovations, clinical development and disease management.

Sanofi began working with Verily last year when Verily’s life sciences team approached it while looking for a partner. The joint venture Onduo will start working with patients who have Type 2 diabetes, but it plans to expand to patients with Type 1 over time and eventually work up to solutions for people at risk for developing the disease.

The partnership is the latest in a string of deals advancing the IoMT, which revolves around devices such as smart inhalers, wearable vital signs trackers, connected pill bottles and, in the case of the new Sanofi/Verily deal, the potential for miniaturized electronics that collect patient data and information. The size of the global healthcare IoMT market, which includes devices, software and service, is expected to grow from $32.4 billion in 2015 to $163.2 billion in 2020, according to researcher Markets and Markets.

In the past year, Pfizer and IBM have partnered to gather data on Parkinson’s patients, and Novartis has begun working with Qualcomm to gather biometric data. Others are working on wearable tech-gathering data trials; Takeda has a new iBData program for inflammatory bowel disease, Biogen is tracking multiple sclerosis patients, and AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline and Boehringer Ingelheim are all at work on smart inhaler efforts.

Sanofi is the second diabetes drugmaker to hook up with a tech giant. Last year, Novo Nordisk teamed with IBM in a Watson deal around using machine learning and Big Data to improve diabetes care.

For Sanofi, a key part of the Onduo deal is the inclusion of the patient perspective, as like many pharma companies, it’s looking to create beyond-the-pill digital components for its drugs to grab a competitive advantage.

“Patient insights and unmet needs will be vital inputs in defining functionality and features of the solution. Sanofi has conducted numerous studies in the past and will look to conduct more,” Oelrich said.

He declined to offer specifics on Onduo’s initial work, noting just that first product offerings should be out in 2018.

- read Onduo news release

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