Home' Australasian BioTechnology : Vol 27 No 2 Contents Australasian BioTechnology | Volume 27 | Number 2 53
automatically keep track, via cloud-based records, of
medication adherence. It sounds easy, but achieving
this became a highly technical challenge involving
regulators and clinical testing. The sheer number of
different SmartinhalerTM devices we had to engineer
was a challenge, not to mention the need to continually
innovate and stay ahead of the market.
I don't mean to minimise the challenges of growing
from a start-up -- there have been many, and each one
has been a significant hurdle for Adherium -- but having
a clear idea of purpose and mission, and never losing it,
has been one of the keys for us.
We have always wanted to empower people with
chronic conditions to live the lives they want, to reduce
unnecessary hospitalisation and suffering, and to also
meet important secondary aims, such as reducing
costs for the health system and the strain on hospitals,
doctors and insurers.
Initially, Adherium was making a very small number
of SmartinhalersTM for use in clinical trials. They were
effectively custom-manufactured units and they did a
good job of keeping track of medication doses, which
is essential information when you are running a clinical
trial of a blockbuster drug. We were getting terrific
feedback about our devices, but it was obvious that we
needed to get our technology into the broad market.
To get there would require a lot more capital and
some supportive shareholders who could help us,
not just with money, but with the right connections
to international players and advice about clearing
Finally, we needed to strike a deal with a major
pharmaceutical player, that could ensure that our
products were distributed inter nationally, and provide
us with the impetus for a share market listing so that we
had the validation, the ability to raise capital as needed,
and the financial discipline and regulation to enable our
partners to deal with us on an equal footing.
In the end, we achieved all of those goals, but each
one brought with it a unique set of issues, ranging
from ensuring that we had enough intellectual
property (IP) protection of our products in the major
markets we were targeting, right through to making
the design of each device as intuitive and user-friendly
as possible so that people would enjoy using the
inhalers, and get the correct dose every time.
Fortunately, we were able to find the right investors very
early -- when we were a tiny private company and well
before we listed on the Australian share market. Most of
those investors who shared our vision have stuck with us
all the way through to today, and some have been crucial
in helping us on the commercialisation path.
While Adherium has made incredible progress since our
early days, we have big ambitions for the future, and
there's still a long way to go. The journey from start-up
to scale-up is both challenging and exciting, but for
Adherium, it is still very much a work in progress.
Continuing innovation is key to beating the competition
Having a strong focus is essential for growing a
company, but you also need to keep an eye on the
competition. When Adherium's very first SmartinhalerTM
devices were being built more than 15 years ago, we
were the pioneers on the cutting edge of a very new
field. Today, as we knew it would, competition has
risen to meet the challenge of reducing the avoidable
healthcare costs of respiratory disease, which equal $34
billion a year in the United States alone.
For us, the challenge will always be to remain at
the forefront of developing world-class digital
health technologies and robustly proving that our
products produce exceptional results. SmartinhalerTM
is currently the most clinically proven solution for
respiratory medication adherence in the world. Recent
published results demonstrated a fivefold reduction
in hospitalisations for children with asthma, due
to better adherence. In another clinical study, our
SmartinhalerTM showed that 3.4 times more patients
achieved 80 per cent or more adherence to their
medication compared to 2.5 times for a competitor.
SmartinhalerLiveTM, our cloud-based data platform,
already has more than 25 million device logs from
more than five million data uploads, and it is growing
at 243 per cent per year, but we can see these figures
being totally dwarfed in the future. This brings with
it the chance to use predictive algorithms as an early
warning system for patients and caregivers.
The other way we are remaining ahead of the
competition is building the largest suite of products
compared to our competitors and securing regulatory
approval, which is current in the United States,
United Kingdom, China, Canada and Australia. Our
intellectual property is now protected by 10 patent
families and more than 70 design registrations.
Our 10-year commercial product development and
supply agreement with AstraZeneca, which began at
the start of 2015, is also a vital part of our strategy to
remain market leaders. These are all valuable things,
but the bottom line is that you need to be continually
innovating if you want to remain competitive; there is
no chance to rest on your laurels.
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