Boehringer and Qualcomm collaborate on digital COPD inhaler


Boehringer Ingelheim is the latest company in respiratory health to announce a collaboration to create a 'smart' version of an inhaler product.

 Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) is to work with Qualcomm to 'digitally upgrade' its Respimat inhaler, introducing a new connectivity solution to improve medication adherence in chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) patients.

Poor adherence to treatment is a common issue in COPD patients and frequently results in emergency hospital admissions.

Qualcomm and its rival Propeller are emerging as the tech companies to partner with in the development of smart inhalers.

Virtually all the companies active in the asthma and COPD markets have invested in the technology, and the race is now on to see who can gain the greatest advantage from it.  In January, Qualcomm unveiled a venture with Novartis to develop a ‘smart inhaler’ version of the Swiss firm’s Breezhaler inhaler capable of sending data to a patient’s smartphone, a Novartis COPD mobile app and the cloud.

The new Breezhaler won’t be available until 2019, leaving plenty of time for rivals to introduce their own connected inhalers to the market.

Among its many projects, Propeller is currently working with Vectura,  BI and GlaxoSmithKline, to create a digitally-connected set of dry powder inhalers and collect real world evidence on their use.

Teva, another player in the field (focused on generics) has bought its own smart inhaler company, Gecko Health Innovations.

The new BI prototype is being developed by Qualcomm's health division Qualcomm Life to create a small, wireless, low-power disposable module for the Respimat inhaler.

The module will allow for the connection of Respimat inhalers to Qualcomm Life’s 2net Platform - the company’s cloud-based data platform – meaning information such as the number of inhaler puffs can be shared with healthcare providers.

"Qualcomm Life is committed to powering the Internet of Medical Things to ultimately enable intelligent care to be delivered wherever the patient may be," said Rick Valencia, president of Qualcomm Life. "We are excited to be collaborating with an industry leader like Boehringer Ingelheim to deliver a more seamless digital health experience that can enable their COPD patients to better manage their disease."


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Marco Ricci

31 August, 2016