Bayer bets on digital to deliver ‘precision’ consumer health


Personalised and precision health is a firmly established concept in the development of new prescription medicines, but not so much in the consumer health category. Bayer wants to change that, and is launching a new business unit to achieve its ambition.

The German group’s consumer healthcare division said it plans to develop new products that will allow people to take more control of their own personal health, with the help of digital technologies.

The objective is to use “data, technology, and science to make self-care more precise”, with digital diagnostics, apps, and therapeutics helping people manage their day-to-day health in the hope of preventing illness, according to David Evendon-Challis, chief scientific officer at Bayer’s €6 billion consumer health business.

“As people increasingly turn to self-care to manage their everyday health, new digital tools are enabling them to make smarter choices through deeper and more precise understanding of their individual needs,” he said.

“We believe we can help consumers move from reactive to proactive ageing, with individualised insights about their biological age at all stages of life.”

Closing the gap between monitoring, awareness, and diagnosis at one end, and education, treatment, and prevention at the other, is the key to consumers getting control of their own health, according to Bayer.

The new business unit will be given the task of seeking out partnerships with digital health technology developers, building on existing alliances with Stanford University spin-out Edifice, Chronomics, Ada Health, and HUMA, as well as raising Bayer’s internal digital health expertise.

Bayer was an early investor in Edifice, a start-up that uses proteomics and artificial intelligence to provide personalised readouts of the rate at which an individual’s cells and body are ageing, and plans to develop nutritional supplements that will be matched to a person’s profile.

Chronomics has developed a range of rapid diagnostics for things like heart health, thyroid function, cholesterol and lipids, and liver function, which can be delivered to and used by people in their own homes, while Bayer has tapped Ada Health for an AI-based symptom assessment tool that can help customers better understand their symptoms and how they could be treated.

Earlier this year, Bayer also launched what it says is “the first step of a new heart health ecosystem” in the US with a heart risk assessment powered by Huma. The online tool assesses an individual’s risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease over the next 10 years.

The company says it has also advanced several other digital health projects in its pipeline with anticipated launches beginning later this year.

“Consumers are consistently looking for health solutions that go beyond traditional product formats like pill or cream,” said Patricia Corsi, chief marketing, digital, and information officer at Bayer Consumer Health.

“By delivering against their needs, we continue on our journey to increase brand value and engagement with the people we serve, while progressing on our digital transformation journey for our consumer health business.”