- Boehringer Ingelheim signed a $500 million contract with Click Therapeutics to codevelop and commercialize digital treatments for patients with schizophrenia.
- And pharma companies like Boehringer Ingelheim are increasingly commercializing DTx .
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Pharma giant Boehringer Ingelheim signed a $500 million contract with prescription digital therapeutics (DTx) company Click Therapeutics to codevelop and commercialize digital treatments for patients with schizophrenia. The DTx app—dubbed CT-155—will be designed on Click’s tech platform, and will be prescribed as either a standalone treatment or as a supplement to traditional pharmaceuticals.
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Pharma companies are increasingly commercializing DTx for psychiatric conditions, which should help them pry open massive revenue streams. This isn’t the first time a major pharmaceutical company tapped a DTx developer’s tools for behavioral health: In 2019, Otsuka pumped $300 million into Click Therapeutics to codevelop a DTx for major depressive disorder; and Sanofi teamed up with Happify Health last September to build a prescription-based digital depression therapy for patients living with multiple sclerosis.
Big pharma’s interest in DTx solutions makes sense—tie-ups with behavioral health-focused DTx vendors, for example, give pharma incumbents an avenue to reach mental health patients averse to traditional medication. And since 80% of US’ healthcare costs are spent on behavioral health diseases that can be modified through behavioral change, per McKinsey, that represents a massive opportunity. DTx developers—like Biofourmis, for instance—are scoring record funding to advance their tech infrastructure, which will likely provide pharma companies with a wider variety of evidence-based DTx platforms to tap.
Relaxed regulations amid the pandemic have made it easier for DTx developers to roll out new tools—but barriers like meager reimbursement and poor interoperability may hinder widespread adoption. The coronavirus catalyzed the rapid rollout of DTx platforms, as developers took advantage of the FDA’s loosened regulations for digital mental health tools: For example, Akili released a temporary version of its video game-based ADHD treatment in April—and it earned FDA clearance for the platform two months later.
However, we think lingering challenges like lack of provider reimbursement may hold these platforms back from seeing high patient uptake—the CMS has yet to offer significant reimbursement to Medicare and Medicaid patients eligible for DTx solutions, for instance.
What’s more, physicians are overwhelmed with patient data—and unless DTx developers find a way to incorporate their tools within provider workflows, they risk compounding the US’ long-standing interoperability dilemma and dissuading already stressed out doctors from prescribing their platforms. However, we’ve seen some DTx companies move to overcome interoperability challenges: Livongo currently allows integration of its platform into Cerner’s EHR, for example.
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