Bayer's digital drive in consumer health gathers pace

Mahana Therapeutics

Earlier this year, Bayer formed a new business unit that promised to shake up the consumer health category with a new personalised approach driven by digital technologies. Now, it has taken the programme a step further through an alliance with Mahana Therapeutics.

San Francisco-based Mahana has made a name for itself as a developer of digital therapeutics (DTx) for people living with chronic health conditions, getting FDA approval for a therapy for irritable bowel syndrome called Mahana IBS in 2021.

The three-month cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) course can be used by people with IBS to log symptoms and receive guidance on behavioural and thinking changes and was shown in a clinical trial to reduce symptoms when added to current therapies for IBS.

Mahana has several other DTx for chronic conditions in its pipeline and said the "multi-million-dollar" partnership with Bayer will open up a new distribution and marketing channel for them.

"Bayer is prioritising development of products that enable people to take greater control of their own personal health through digital solutions that facilitate more informed choices based on personal insights and novel delivery mechanisms," said Mahana in a statement on the deal.

When its new business unit was announced, Bayer said its objective is to use “data, technology, and science to make self-care more precise," and help people manage their health more effectively.

Along with supporting those with chronic conditions, the company also wants to help people take control of their day-to-day health in the hope of preventing illness in the first place.

David Evendon-Challis, head of R&D and chief scientific officer for the German group's €6 billion consumer health division, said that "digital therapeutics are a perfect addition to our portfolio of care and tap into new tech-savvy consumers looking for drug-free treatments, as well as help eliminate gaps in care provision."

The agreement with Mahana follows earlier partnerships with Stanford University spin-out Edifice, an artificial intelligence company focused on healthy ageing, as well as at-home diagnostics specialist Chronomics, Ada Health - which focuses on AI-powered symptom assessment - and HUMA, which has developed an online cardiovascular risk tool.

"This historic partnership is among the first major investments ever made by a global life sciences company into the emerging marketplace for digital therapeutics," remarked Mahana's chief executive, Simon Levy.

"Through this agreement, we can further expand the availability of our innovative prescription digital therapeutics for patients and their caregivers around the world."

23 August, 2023