HomeAstrazeneca and Huma Partner to Advance Innovation for Digital-First Patient Care

Astrazeneca and Huma Partner to Advance Innovation for Digital-First Patient Care

AstraZeneca said March 23rd it has invested in Huma, a U.K.-based medical technology start-up, as part of a broader commercial tie-up between the two firms, CNBC reported.

Astrazeneca and Huma Did Not Comment on the Financial Terms of Their Agreement

The British big pharma has taken a roughly £25 million ($33 million) stake in Huma, according to an inside source, who remained anonymous.

Founded in 2011 as Medopad, Huma has since raised over $200 million in venture capital funding to date from investors including Bayer, Samsung and Sony.

As part of this partnership, Huma and AstraZeneca will launch Software as a Medical Device (SaMD) companion apps targeted at several therapeutic areas and will partner to help accelerate adoption of decentralized clinical trials. These will build on Huma’s proven technologies which already power digital-first care serving more than 1.8 million active patient users across more than 3,000 hospitals and clinics. Huma’s technologies are designed to connect with clinical workflows, allowing for more efficient care delivery.

“Our track record of scaling innovation has set the stage for this important partnership with one of the world’s largest biopharmaceutical companies. I am excited to have AstraZeneca’s support to build upon our 10-year experience of delivering digital-first solutions across healthcare and clinical trials,” said Dan Vahdat, CEO of Huma. “The combination of pioneering leadership, global-reach, deep medical knowledge and digital innovation will enable our award-winning1 platform to help more people live longer, fuller lives.”

Huma’s Application Has Already Been Widely Successful in Europe

As part of the recent deal, Huma will also acquire AMAZE, a disease management platform developed by AstraZeneca for asthma and heart failure patients, the source said.

AstraZeneca and Huma declined to comment on the financial terms of their agreement.

“AstraZeneca will become a shareholder of Huma continuing its mission to build strategic partnerships across the healthcare ecosystem,” an AstraZeneca spokesperson told CNBC.

“We will collaborate closely to scale AMAZE across multiple projects driving our shared ambition to improve clinical outcomes through digital health solutions that bridge the gap between patients, clinicians, and researchers.”

Huma develops applications that allow doctors to remotely monitor a patient’s symptoms and vital signs. It also collects health data using smartphones, wearables and other devices to help clinicians with conducting medical research involving patients.

Huma combines predictive algorithms, digital biomarkers and real-world data to advance proactive, predictive care and research. 

Huma’s application has been widely successful. For example, its ‘hospital at home’ solution was deployed across 100+ clinics in Germany in a single day. Big pharmaceutical companies are paying close attention to the decade-old startup.

Huma Aims to Become the “Extended Digital Health Arm” of Astrazeneca

AstraZeneca had an advantage, since it already works with Huma on carrying out clinical trials virtually by using the company’s technology. With its new partnership, Huma aims to become the “extended digital health arm” of AstraZeneca, as CEO and co-founder Dan Vahdat told CNBC.

“On the research side, digital tools are becoming the standard,” Vahdat said in an interview. “We are well positioned with the network of patients we already have, and the simplicity of our technology.”

The coronavirus pandemic would have “accelerated” the progress of Huma’s virtual clinical trials, according to Vadhat, who thinks this tech could dramatically cut both costs and time spent in completing drug trials. Virtual trials can shave 2 years out of the 12 it would normally take to get a drug clinically approved, while the cost of around $1.5 billion would also be reduced by “a few $100 million,” Vadhat said.

The move will also help Huma pursue further expansion in the U.S., where AstraZeneca has partnerships with the likes of Massachusetts General Hospital and Stanford University, Vahdat said.

The move marks a rare start-up investment for AstraZeneca which, alongside Pfizer and Moderna, is one of the largest manufacturers of Covid-19 vaccines globally.

“This collaboration marks an important moment as it is a first for AstraZeneca in the digital health space as well as in the industry for chronic diseases and SaMDs in support of different treatments,” said Karan Arora, Chief Commercial Digital Officer, AstraZeneca. “With Huma, we are accelerating AstraZeneca’s ambition to achieve earlier diagnosis and treatment for patients with chronic diseases so they can lead better, more fulfilling lives.”

Astrazeneca Had Numerous Other Collaboration to Diversify Its Portfolio

This is not the first time AstraZeneca either invests in other companies or buys them altogether, in order to diversify its portfolio.

The developer of one of the pharmaceutical industry’s first COVID-19 vaccine announced, December 2020, that it was going to acquire US-based Alexion for $39 billion.

Under the terms of the agreement, AstraZeneca, British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical company, indicated that Alexion shareholders were going to receive $60 in cash and around 2.1 from the company’s US-listed shares for each share of Alexion they owned.

Alexion Pharmaceutical was valued at $175 per share. After the deal, Alexion shareholders were going to own around 15% of the combined company.

Chief executive of AstraZeneca, Pascal Soriot, said, “Alexion has become established as a leader in complement biology, advancing life-changing benefits to patients with rare diseases. This acquisition allows AstraZeneca to enhance its presence in immunology.”

Another collaboration, this time between AstraZeneca India, a leading science-led biopharmaceutical company, and health-tech startup Tricog, rolled out a program called ‘Project Heart Beat’, focused on an early and accurate diagnosis of Heart Attack patients to thus lower mortality rates.

Project Heart Beat has already touched over 13,000 patients, and impacted the lives of over 6,000 patients with abnormal and critical MI, with an average diagnosis time under 4 minutes.

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