Novartis invests $24M in Proteus Biomedical

By: Brian Dolan | Jan 12, 2010        

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Proteus Biomedical's "smart pill"Pharmaceutical giant Novartis announced that would invest $24M in upfront cash and equity as part of an exclusive worldwide agreement for the pharma company to license Proteus Biomedical’s sensing technology for organ transplantation. (That must be the kind of exclusive deal Novartis had in mind when the two companies announced their collaboration on a pilot last year.)

As part of the deal, Novartis also has “certain” options rights related to oncology, cardiovascular, and clinical development. To date, Proteus has focused on cardiovascular disease, tuberculosis and psychiatric disorders applications for its technology, which is currently undergoing clinical investigation.

Last September Novartis tapped Proteus for a small 20 patient study to track patients’ compliance with their blood pressure drug regimen. The patients took blood pressure drug Diovan and the study organizers tracked their compliance via Proteus’ “chip in the pill” technology, which reports to a receiver sensor on the patient’s shoulder when the medication has been ingested. The study improved compliance from 30 percent to 80 percent after six months, according to Novartis.

“We believe that Novartis is a global leader in organ transplant drug development and marketing, which makes it an excellent collaborator to advance sensor-based pharmaceutical treatment systems,” Andrew Thompson, president and CEO, Proteus said in a statement. “We have a great opportunity together to bring a new type of pharmaceutical product to market that could aid patients, their families and physicians to attain maximum adherence with pharmaceutical therapy.”

This is not the first time we have written about the import of medical adherence for organ transplants — just last year Mt. Sinai discussed its pilot program with wireless health start-up Carespeak, which offers text message reminders for medication adherence:

“If we can save one patient from needing another transplant, we’ve saved a life and at least a half-million dollars. The investment is relatively little and the benefit enormous.” Dr. Tamir Miloh, assistant professor of pediatrics and surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. Miloh and his team at Mt. Sinai worked on a pilot program with with CareSpeak that aimed to increase the rate of adherence among young liver transplant patients to their medication regimen. The medication schedule for the program’s 41 patients ranged from three different pills once a day to three different pills twice a day.

For more on the Novartis – Proteus Biomedical deal, read the full press release here