Google’s Verily and Sanofi create diabetes joint venture

French pharma company Sanofi

Alphabet’s life sciences division Verily has unveiled its latest healthcare collaboration – this time in the form of a joint diabetes venture with Sanofi.

The joint venture will be under the name Onduo and will aim to help people with diabetes live a full, healthy life by leveraging devices, software, medicine and professional care.

Initially, Onduo will focus on type 2 diabetes, specifically developing solutions to help patients make better decisions about their health. The company is planning to expand its focus to type 1 diabetes and at-risk populations in the future.

"My experience as a physician and in leading consumer health initiatives has shown me the daily burden of living with diabetes," said newly appointed CEO of Onduo, Dr. Joshua Riff. "From monitoring food intake to testing glucose levels to actively seeking medical care, the challenges both on the physical and mental well-being of a person living with diabetes are incredibly difficult. We want to develop solutions that allow people living with diabetes to focus on the things they love and enjoy in life by providing tools to make dealing with their diabetes less burdensome."

The collaboration will make use of Sanofi’s experience in the diabetes drug market as well as Verily’s experience in electronics, analytics and consumer software development.

"The integration of multiple interventions, such as data-driven patient support and devices in addition to treatment, can help improve outcomes, which is important from the perspective of patients, healthcare professionals and the overall healthcare system,"  said Peter Guenter, executive vice president and head of the Global Diabetes & Cardiovascular Business Unit at Sanofi. "The new company Sanofi and Verily invested in will adopt a more service-centric approach and support doctors in their efforts to treat their patients more effectively.”

Onduo’s platform will initially be rolled out across both the Sutter Health network, which currently cares for more than 3 million patients, and the Allegheny Health network, which currently employs more than 1,100 physicians, in order to test the solution in a clinical setting.

The company has also expressed its intention to work with patient advocacy groups to help in the device development process.

Onduo is the latest in a catalogue of collaborations in the healthcare space for Verily. Late last year, it announced the formation of Verb Surgical – an independent surgical solutions company formed in partnership with Johnson & Johnson. At the beginning of this year, the company unveiled a collaboration with Merck Sharp & Dohme on a ‘Long Term Conditions Early Interventions’ programme for the NHS and last month, it launched a bioelectronics medicines firm in partnership with GlaxoSmithKline.

The company also famously unveiled its ‘smart’ contact lens for the management of diabetes in 2014 – a device developed in partnership with Novartis that can measure glucose levels in the tears of patients to allow for continuous glucose monitoring. The lens is currently being tested in large-scale trials.

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Marco Ricci

12 September, 2016