What Sanofi’s withdrawal from diabetes tech tells us about digital well being

A model of this story appeared in STAT’s Well being Tech publication. Click on right here to subscribe.

In well being care, main drug makers have sought to collaborate with well being tech up-and-comers. And on the floor, there’s good cause to assume that these partnerships can translate into merchandise that may profit human well being.

However the actuality is that the pursuits of the 2 events don’t all the time align.


The newest instance comes from Sanofi (SNY), which introduced earlier this week that it might exit analysis on heart problems and diabetes.

As a part of that strategic shift, the French drug large will pull again from an bold enterprise to make use of digital instruments to assist sufferers handle their kind 2 diabetes, the corporate instructed traders. That challenge is Onduo, a three way partnership launched in 2016 with $500 million break up equally by Sanofi and Alphabet life sciences unit Verily.

On the time, Sanofi mentioned Onduo will focus “particularly on creating options that would assist folks make higher selections about their everyday well being, starting from improved medicine administration to improved habits and targets.”

However this week Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson mentioned that his firm had “over-invested” in Onduo and can not be concerned in operating the enterprise, although it’ll stay an investor in it.

The information appears to bolster a development: the obvious incompatibility between conventional gamers and new approaches to well being tech.

It additionally comes simply weeks after Novartis’ generics unit, Sandoz, ended a deal to commercialize Pear Therapeutics’ smartphone apps for substance use issues.

On the identical time, Sanofi’s restructuring information reveals how established corporations are borrowing — and making an attempt to enhance on — the methods of tech-savvy startups. Sanofi hopes to promote Cialis, its erectile dysfunction drug, over-the-counter — which sounds rather a lot like a problem to startups that market simple on-line prescriptions for such medication, as Bloomberg columnist Max Nisen famous on Twitter.

Solely time will inform which approaches to well being tech find yourself working for conventional gamers in well being care. However as illustrated by Sanofi’s selections this week, that course of is more likely to proceed to contain loads of experimentation. The well being care institution might not but have discovered methods to generate income from well being tech, but it surely’s keen to maintain making an attempt.

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