Digital therapeutic approaches seen advancing in 2020, analyst says

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The momentum behind digital therapeutics appears to be advancing, despite some chilling of relationships between vendors of the products and pharmaceutical companies.

The lack of uniform growth is understandable, contends Richard Close, an analyst with Canaccord Genuity, an investment bank that focuses on growth companies.

Close contends that the cooling in activity between digital therapeutic developers and big pharmaceutical companies is understandable because of the lack of understanding for how to commercialize the emerging products.

“These ‘cooling’ events do not imply a sea change for DTx (digital therapeutics); rather, they are indicative of a nascent and emerging industry still trying to figure out the best way to commercialize products,” Close wrote in a research summary released this week.

There’s growing recognition that digital therapeutics offer potential benefits for treating patients—but the exact way to derive those benefits is not yet clear.

“It is clear through clinical studies that DTx offers meaningful value and quality, but how DTx and pharma (will) work together to unleash this potential remains to be seen,” Close contends.

Other players in the care management sector, however, see the potential impact that digital therapeutics can play.

For example, Express Scripts, the largest independent manager of pharmacy benefits in the U.S., in December announced it will add digital offerings to its health formulary in 2020. Express Scripts is “going full steam ahead” with digital health, says Mark Bini, Express Script’s chief patient experience officer. It’s Sure Script’s job to find the right digital health solutions for its clients and patients, and then to make sure patients use the solutions effectively, he adds.

See Also: Express Scripts to launch its first digital health formulary in 2020

The Express Scripts formulary includes digital products from Livongo, Welldoc and Omada Health for treating diabetes, hypertension, and asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and it offers a couple digital product offerings from SilverCloud Health and Learn to Live for mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and insomnia.

Other digital health developers are continuing to raise capital or form new relationships with larger organizations, Close says.

While other DTx developers have seen relationships end with pharmaceutical companies, they are continuing work on products that can be prescribed for clinical purposes, and that “implies positive momentum for the industry,” Close concludes.

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