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Today's mobile apps are helping diabetics aggregate blood sugar and nutritional data from multiple platforms and devices and logging data into central portals accessible anywhere, according to Steve Robinson, general manager of the Cloud Platform Services Division for IBM.
Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology, Vol. 7, Issue 1 Jan. 2013.
El-Gayar, Timsina and Nawar.
Via rob halkes, Lionel Reichardt / le Pharmageek
Apps are moving much closer to delivering real therapeutic benefit, as I wrote last month on Forbes. But life science venture capital investors of any stripe – financial or corporate -- are reluctant to invest in app developers.
Then, earlier this month, I noticed that a life sciences venture capitalist I know, Simon Meier, a corporate VC from Roche Venture Fund, had just invested in a $4.8 million round raised by mySugr, an Austrian app developer that has produced some popular apps to help both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics manage their disease.
mySugr is a pure direct-to-consumer business that exists to make it easier to live with diabetes, whether type 1 or type 2. As reported on MobiHealthNews, “MySugr[’s]… flagship [app]… Diabetes Logbook … includes logging, graphing, analysis, ‘exciting challenges,’ ‘smile-inducing feedback,’ and Apple AAPL -2.61% Health integration. If users sign up for a month-to-month or annual subscription, pro [premium] features include additional challenges, automatic blood glucose logging from connected devices, reminders, and more report formats. Its Logbook app is registered as a class 1 device with the FDA [U.S. Food & Drug Administration] and has similar status inEurope.”
What a different risk profile this presents compared to a diabetes drug! No decade-long product development. No regulatory risk. No costly clinical trials. And no massive and expensive sales force. Sounds like a VC’s dream. Except for the tradeoff: the app has to reach millions of users and then convince a significant fraction of them to pay for the premium features while staying ahead of all the other diabetes apps in an arena with much lower barriers to entry than a drug would face.
The pharma business model – charging high prices at high margins for products whose development takes a decade or more – is beginning to seem increasingly threatened by lower cost competitors (think generics and biosimilars) and reimbursement challenges (look at the recent scrap over the price of hepatitis C drugs). Making exploratory investments in app companies may represent a way to establish a beachhead in a pharma-lite (if not completely pharma-free) future.
It is unwise to push this thesis too far. Being a participant in a small venture round of less than five million dollars is a far cry from giving up one’s business model. And it was the venture fund, which operates independently from the strategy of the parent company, that made the investment. Still, the same way that Apple has migrated from being “just” a hardware and software company to being a “digital data and online ecosystem” company, early forays like corporate VC investments in the digital world reflect a similar impulse to add a greater consumer focus within the pharma industry.
So watch out. This small step into consumer-friendly apps might evolve into a giant leap into an entirely new business.
Via Pharma Guy
Finger pricks and careful eating are an important part of the daily routine for most people with diabetes. While automated glucose meters are a growing option, they can still create discomfort and other inconveniences.
Google wants to go in a totally different direction with a project announced today:smart contact lenses that can detect glucose levels via the wearer’s tears and alert them when levels dip or rise.
This isn’t the first smart contact lens, and several options already exist for people interested in monitoring glaucoma. But Babak Parviz, who also leads the Google Glass team, is a smart contact pioneer and Google which is a secretive division of Google dedicated to difficult, future-looking projects, has a reputation for ably pursuing projects like this.
The lens works via a small wireless chip and glucose sensor embedded between two pieces of soft material. The current prototype puts out a reading once a second. Google is also interested in integrating an LED light, which could light up to alert the wearer of dangerous glucose levels.
The lab is now looking for parters to help bring the lens to market. It would also like to develop an app that would help wearers read and manage the data the lens takes in.
The lens could help people with diabetes monitor their daily health and recognize dangerous situations.