Otsuka, Proteus expand collaboration to advance digital medicines for mental health

Otsuka Pharmaceutical and Proteus Digital Health announced Thursday that they have agreed to expand their existing partnership to develop more medicines containing tracking sensors. The alliance builds on the FDA approval last November for Abilify MyCite, which combines Otsuka's atypical antipsychotic Abilify (aripiprazole) with Proteus' ingestible sensor embedded in the tablet that records that the medication was taken. 

As part of the expanded collaboration, which covers the development and marketing of digital medicines over the next five years, Otsuka made $88 million in related equity and other payments to Proteus. Kabir Nath, CEO of Otsuka's North American pharmaceutical business, stated "we are pleased to continue to focus on opportunities to further integrate digital medicines into healthcare eco-systems to provide value-added outcomes for patients suffering from unmet medical needs in the mental health field."

Under the agreed terms, a collaborative team consisting of Otsuka and Proteus employees will be tasked to commercial development and market coordination for the Abilify MyCite system, software integration and standardisation, manufacturing and supply chain integration, and coordination. The activities will include the co-development of an expanded portfolio of digital medicines consisting of other therapies integrated with Proteus sensors. The companies will also collaborate in the development of next-generation product features and sensor capabilities to expand the potential of digital medicines. 

The collaboration could be worth between $500 million and $700 million, according to people familiar with the negotiations, although Otsuka declined to confirm the amount. Proteus CEO Andrew Thompson noted that most digital deals were worth "single-digit to double-digit millions [and] most of those are small projects that can't really become scaled products." He added that "as an investment in real product development," the deal with Otsuka is "very significant." Meanwhile, Andrew Wright, head of digital medicines at Otsuka, indicated that the tie-up would "result in product features and sensor capabilities that expand the potential of digital medicine offerings, such as wearables."

Proteus' ingestible sensor technology was initially cleared by the FDA in 2012 for use as an integrated component of an inert tablet or other ingested product. The indication for the technology was subsequently expanded to cover monitoring drug adherence. 

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