GlaxoSmithKline, Propeller widen respiratory sensor collaboration for COPD edge

GSK building
Just weeks after appointing a new chief digital officer, Karenann Terrell, GlaxoSmithKline is pushing its digital efforts with an expanded Propeller Health collaboration.

Propeller Health’s sensor for GlaxoSmithKline’s Ellipta inhaler last year won marketing clearance on both sides of the Atlantic. And with those green lights in hand, the two companies are now beefing up their collaboration and taking the smart inhaler tool to market.

Thursday, the pair said they would expand their 2015 pact so that both companies could “prepare for and undertake commercial activities" using Propeller's clip-on sensor and software platform with GSK's Ellipta inhaler. Each company will continue to collect evidence from the clip-on sensor and software platform, which goes hand-in-hand with the pharma giant’s asthma and COPD offerings, including Anoro and Relvar.

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"We are excited to be working closely with GSK to make the sensor for the Ellipta inhaler available in our commercial programs, and for the first time, as part of commercial pilots with GSK outside the U.S.," Propeller CEO David Van Sickle said in a statement.

The Propeller inhaler is one of Glaxo's efforts to pair its drugs with digital add-ons that can help patients get the best results possible from their meds. “[D]igital innovations, like sensor technologies, will help us ensure patients receive the best possible package of care management and treatment for their respiratory condition," Glaxo respiratory head Eric Dube said.

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Propeller, for its part, has already seen its platform used in more than 55 commercial programs in the U.S., including healthcare systems, payers and more. It analyzes and presents drug adherence data—collected through use of a sensor that automatically records medication use—to both patients and physicians.

Glaxo has been ready and willing when it comes to embracing digital tech, and a new digital exec appointment emphasizes that its digital expansion is a big priority. Karenann Terrell, a Walmart vet, will oversee the company’s digital efforts as chief digital and technology officer, GSK said last month.

She’ll work “with a wide range of partners from inside and outside the healthcare sector to bring new technologies to GSK, enhancing areas such as clinical trials and drug development,” the company said.

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Glaxo first teamed up with Propeller back in late 2015. Last July, it claimed to be the first to use Apple’s ResearchKit platform to run a study, which evaluated 300 rheumatoid arthritis patients.

Glaxo isn’t the only drugmaker looking to digital for an edge, though. Respiratory rival Boehringer Ingelheim has also partnered with both Propeller and Qualcomm, and Novartis has its own partnership going with Qualcomm. And Thursday, the Swiss drugmaker said it had nabbed its own new digital head from the retail sector in Bertrand Bodson; he’s currently the chief digital and marketing officer for Argos, the online and catalog operation that grocery retailer Sainsbury acquired last year.