Pharma company’s app supports treatment for opioid abuse

Many of the apps that pharma companies are developing to support conditions or specific drugs and diagnostics are either only available outside the U.S. or are still being evaluated in pilot studies. A specialist drug developer rolled out an app in December to support its drug to treat people for opioid abuse. The idea is […]

Many of the apps that pharma companies are developing to support conditions or specific drugs and diagnostics are either only available outside the U.S. or are still being evaluated in pilot studies. A specialist drug developer rolled out an app in December to support its drug to treat people for opioid abuse. The idea is for treatment centers and physicians to dispense the app to patients.

BioDelivery Science rolled out INREACH to get a better view on recovering addicts adherence between counseling sessions and remind them why they decided to quit drugs in the first place. It is available in Apple’s app store and users aren’t charged for it. The app is designed to support its drug to treat opioid abuse, Bunavail, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last year.

In a phone interview with BioDelivery Science marketing vice president Al Medwar, he said the priorities of the app are to help patients (and physicians) track their treatment and keep them motivated with a bulletin board that allows users to pin images of children, family members and friends or more emotive pictures.

It reasons that most people have a mobile phone so having an app as an access point is the easiest way to reach patients.

“What we’re trying to do is offer physicians a different type of patient support,” Medwar said. Treatment centers are among its early adopters, but the company couldn’t produce any figures on the number of people actively using the app.

Puzzlingly, the app didn’t warrant a mention in BioDelivery Science’s first quarter earnings or on a conference call to review them.

It underscores the quandry of some pharma companies that treat apps somewhere between a marketing pitch and an experiment.

Canaan Partners Principal Julie Papanek talked to The Wall Street Journal about the pharma industry’s interest in digital health tools like apps. Although she cited clarified rules about social media as one reason, gaining access to physicians is another. With hospital systems generally shutting off access to doctors, pharma need another way to gain information about its drugs.

“They want real-world data on clinical outcomes [of their drugs]. They need data to show that people should pay more for their drug [now that sales teams are more limited]. It can be data from wearables, or from insurance claims and electronic health records. Pharma companies today must prove over and over and over again the benefits of their drugs.”