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Propeller, Boehringer Partner on Inhaler Adherence Study

Child with asthma

(Tradimus, Wikiimedia Commons)

23 March 2016. The pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim is collaborating with a mobile health technology developer to track use of its medications for asthma and COPD administered with its inhaler. Financial aspects of the agreement between Propeller Health in Madison, Wisconsin, and Boehringer Ingelheim were not disclosed.

Boehringer Ingelheim, headquartered in Germany, markets a number of medications for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, which are inhaled directly by individuals with these conditions using the company’s Respimat inhaler. Boehringer wants to find out how Propeller Health’s tracking technology, built into the inhaler, is affecting its use with patients.

The inhaler adapts technology by Propeller Health combining sensors and mobile apps to measure the number of times individuals with asthma or COPD use their inhalers for maintenance therapy, as well as capture related data. People with these conditions are asked to keep close track of their symptoms and events that trigger attacks or exacerbations that cause flare-ups of the symptoms, as well as record use of medications, such as rescue inhalers, to relieve those symptoms. With COPD in particular, exacerbations can make the disease progress faster and result in hospitalization. Keeping a diary, however, is an unreliable record and not easy for many people to maintain.

The Propeller Health system combines a medication sensor that fits over the the inhaler and measures the amount of medication administered with each use. Those data are captured in software on a smartphone app — iOS and Android versions are available — via a Bluetooth connection that adds the location with date and time, to provide an ongoing record of medication use. The software also allows patients to record symptoms.

Data from the inhalers are then transmitted to individuals and physicians, who can make any adjustments in the medications if warranted by these reports. Propeller Health supplements the individuals’ data with analytics to provide personalized feedback and insights into progress with their conditions.

The joint study is expected to provide data to the companies on the impact of Propeller Health’s tracking technology on adherence rates and engagement by patients. Individuals using Boehringer’s asthma and COPD medications with the Respimat will be asked to enroll in the study. No dates were given for the study’s beginning or completion.

As reported in Science & Enterprise, Propeller Health’s updated basic technology received clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, known as pre-market notification, in May 2014. FDA later cleared specific Propeller Health systems designed for Respimat inhalers in March 2015, and Diskus dry-powder inhalers made by GlaxoSmithKline in July 2015.

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