Boehringer, Propeller ally to bring digital health tool to COPD, asthma sufferers

By Kevin Zimmerman

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In what is billed as the first of its kind commercial partnership between a pharmaceutical and a digital health company in the respiratory medicine space, Ridgefield-based Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals and Propeller Health, a provider of digital platforms for respiratory health in Madison, Wis., have partnered to offer digital health tools and services to help people living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma in better managing their disease.

Under the terms of the partnership, BI will fund the rollout of Propeller’s digital platform for those living with COPD and asthma who are being treated with a BI prescription medication (including market leader Spiriva and Striverdi) approved for use in the company’s Respimat inhaler. Patients who qualify will be able to enroll for free at a number of U.S. health systems in a program designed to determine how the technology affects Respimat adherence rates and patient engagement.

“There is a very clear need in the marketplace for not just a pill but a digital health platform to help patients” suffering from COPD and asthma, said Ruchin Kansal, executive director and head, business innovation, at BI. “We feel that this will give us great feedback that we can use in the future.”

The Propeller sensor attaches to the Respimat inhaler and is designed to keep patients connected to their caregiver and provide insights into disease triggers to both the patient and the care team. Along with a range of analytics, personal feedback and education, the product passively tracks how and when each patient uses their inhaled medications and can send alerts to patients and their caregivers. Kansal says the patient-customized data can be accessed via a number of platforms, including a dedicated website and most mobile devices.

He added that the new partnership grew out of a 2014 pilot program designed to test the Propeller sensor’s compatibility with BI’s inhaler. In March 2015, the FDA gave its approval to market the sensor and Respimat together.

“From the Boehringer Ingelheim perspective, we are committed to [our] ‘Value Through Innovation’” corporate credo, Kansal said. “We are always looking for best-in-class products and services to help patients manage and learn more about their disease.”

The 12-month monitoring program is scheduled to include 2,500 Respimat patients.

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