Teva pads beyond-the-pill lineup with latest smart inhaler approval

Teva ProAir Inhaler
Teva is readying a portfolio of smart digital inhalers that connect to apps, advancing the first-gen medicine-only dispenser pictured. (Teva)

Make that three smart inhalers for Teva Pharmaceutical. Teva's recently approved ArmonAir Digihaler monotherapy maintenance treatment rounds out its lineup of Digihaler products. 

The two previous Teva approvals are the Pro-Air Digihaler for rescue treatment and the AirDuo Digihaler for combination maintenance. The trio of products will be commercially available later this year.

Teva is part of a wave of pharma companies adding digital enhancements to therapies as a way to not only extend product reach and relevance but also to collect data and feedback about real-world use. The Teva Digihaler was first approved in 2018, the same year the first digital pill plus connected app was approved in Otsuka’s Abilify MyCite. That was also the year Novartis and Pear Therapeutics debuted their substance disorder app reSET (although Novartis has since left that partnership).

In the diabetes space, Novo Nordisk, Abbott and Eli Lilly are all on track to introduce smart insulin pens that collect and share data from injection devices with patients, and potentially healthcare providers, via phone app.

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Teva’s smart inhalers can provide data tracking for patients, physicians and payers. The Digihalers record when the device is used and measure inspiratory flow rate. They then send the data to a companion smartphone app where patients can analyze their own info and choose to share it with their healthcare providers. Users can also set up reminders to use the maintenance medicines.

“The ability to now have objective data to better understand patients' frequency and timing of use of rescue medications, maintenance medications, inspiratory flow characteristics and potential technique errors, we believe will allow for enhanced dialogue and more informed decision-making on treatment options for patients,” Kevin Gessner, vice president at Teva Respiratory, said in an email interview.

Teva is planning several programs to study the ProAir and AirDuo digital inhalers in real-world settings in clinical trials this year. It has already tested Digihaler in studies looking at human factors, risk signals and accuracy; one published paper showed the potential for data from the inhalers to potentially predict future asthma exacerbations.

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Teva reported U.S. sales of ProAir of $274 million in 2019, which marked a 31% drop from 2018. The first ProAir generic was recently approved from Perrigo and Catalent after four years of attempts. It is expected to enter the market in the fourth quarter.

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