Pharma giant Pfizer is setting its sights on the digital therapeutics space, inking a new strategic commercial partnership with Swedish startup Alex Therapeutics.
The joint effort will tap into Alex Therapeutics AI-based platform that integrates both cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) with AI in order to personalize care. Initially the pair will focus on creating digital therapeutics for nicotine addiction treatment and will start its efforts in the German market.
“In our efforts to give patients access to new, innovative forms of therapy, it is our aim to fully benefit from the possibilities of digitization. Alex Therapeutics is a very promising company due to its approach of combining the latest psychological findings on dealing with harmful behavior with the possibilities of artificial intelligence,” said Aylin Tüzel, country manager for Pfizer Germany, explaining the choice of cooperation partner, in a statement.
WHY IT MATTERS
The World Health Organization reports that tobacco kills more than eight million individuals each year. Today several digital health companies, including Quit Genius, Carrot and CureApp SC have created digital tools designed to help with smoking cessation.
Pfizer also has a history of working in the smoking cessation space. It previously released a drug called Chantix designed to help patients quit smoking. However, in September the company issued a voluntary nationwide recall of Chantix in the U.S. due to the level of the nitrosamine N-nitroso-varenicline.
THE LARGER TREND
Pfizer has been interested in the digital therapeutic space for some time. In June 2020, the company announced a partnership with Sidekick Health worth roughly $8 million in order to launch a digital therapeutic platform.
The company has also shown an interest in incorporating more digital elements into research. Pfizer previously teamed up with the Digital Medicine Society (DiMe) and other life science companies on a digital endpoint initiative focused on atopic dermatitis.
Many other large life science companies have explored the digital space. In May, Novartis teamed up with medical AI company Ada Health on a new diagnosis for patients with immunological diseases and rare conditions. Novartis has also worked with digital therapeutics company Pear in the past, however, the pair split ways in late 2019 on their high-profile collaboration around substance-abuse recovery therapeutics reSET and reSET-O. Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR) is still working with the company on its schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis research.
Additionally, Sanofi has worked with digital therapeutic Happify Health on treating multiple sclerosis symptoms since 2019.