While major pharmaceutical companies continue to focus increasingly on the burgeoning medical technology market, Swiss drug maker Novartis is joining the movement with a new line of new patient monitoring devices. Under the leadership of CEO Joe Jiminez, the company recently commenced several new product manufacturing and distribution projects, the most interesting of which include:
- Inhalers and pill products with built-in sensors to help patients keep track of their meds.
- Clinical testing equipment that utilises Microsoft’s Kinect motion sensors (used in the Xbox Kinect gaming accessory) to monitor balance and walking characteristics in patients with multiple sclerosis.
- Google smart contact lenses, which, can monitor patients’ blood sugar levels based on the content of their tear fluid, which according to a statement Jiminez gave Bloomberg, could revolutionise the field of diabetes monitoring.
Novartis Partners with Qualcomm
Back in January Novartis announced it would be partnering with Qualcomm to invest up to $100 million in start-ups that are developing remote patient technology for mobile devices. Novartis also announced that it would be utilising Qualcomm’s Life2Net cloud data-sharing platform to collect patient and device data during clinical trials.
These announcements come at a crucial point in the company’s history, as Novartis recently conducted a 3-way swap of assets with GlaxoSmithKline, in which it acquired GSK’s growing stable of cancer medications in exchange for its vaccines department and pooling its OTC products, which include the popular headache medication Excedrin.
Novartis Loses Patents
On the underside of things, four of the company’s top 10 medications have already lost or will soon lose their patent protection before and/or during 2016. According to Bloomberg, the patent losses alone could endanger $10 billion in revenue.
Fortunately for Novartis, their new line of upcoming med tech products could be the positive offset that mitigates the patent losses and the cost of producing the products themselves. The company is also working on a new smoker’s cough treatment and two new cancer drugs to add to its recently acquired stable.
Forecasts Going Forward
Jiminez told Bloomberg that the company is making its latest decisions based on a 10-year outlook. The Novartis CEO noted that the recent transformations in healthcare were already being envisioned a decade ago.
Despite the recent power moves, it seems Novartis is not intent on slowing down in its quest to pioneer med tech, as there’s news that the company is already considering acquisitions of other medical technology companies worth between $2 to 5 billion in an effort to further expand their offerings in the patient monitoring and adherence sector.
Novartis Seeks to Partner with Other Med Tech Companies
Jiminez was clear that Novartis is motivated to partner with other med tech companies that “have like interests”. He also discussed the possibility of catering to every step of the process in patient monitoring, from patient-doctor warning systems to technological solutions that will help patients comply with their physician’s instruction.
Novartis isn’t the only pharma company with its eyes on med tech though. Last year, Johnson & Johnson released a ramified health-tracking app, and Merck KGaA released a data collection utility to accompany its popular multiple sclerosis medication Rebif. The new tool, called MSdialog, is a cloud-based software that synchronises with the RebiSmart auto-injector to transmit patient injection data directly to physicians.