Friday Five: The week’s top digital health news and views (30 April 2021)

Illumina on Grail; Novo on Haldoc; Eisai partners Voluntis; KOL on digital orthopaedics; Kry on expansion.

1. Illumina stands its ground on Grail

Illumina opened up about its pending acquisition of Grail during its Q1 earnings call this week. With comments like “the facts are on our side, the law is on our side,” Illumina CEO Francis deSouza made it evident that the next-gen sequencing leader is determined to see this $8 billion-transaction through - in spite of opposition from the US FTC and European Commission [see Wider View: Illumina not letting Grail go]. Investors wary of how this battle might play out and the impact on Illumina’s long-term growth could at least take comfort in the company’s strong Q1 results. Illumina achieved its first ever $1 billion-quarter; Q1 revenue jumped 27% to $1.1 billion.

[As this article went to press, Illumina filed an action in the EU General Court asking for the annulment of the Commission’s decision to review the Grail transaction - Ed.] 

2. Novo eyes Asia diabetes growth opp with telehealth investment

Novo Nordisk is partnering with Halodoc, Indonesia’s fastest-growing telehealth provider, to accelerate the growth of its core diabetes care business in Asia. The partnership will allow the Danish multinational to tap into Indonesia’s growing diabetic population. The alliance is part of Novo’s recent investment in Halodoc - its first in an Asian healthtech company - and the head of Novo Holdings Asia indicated similar strategic deals in the region will follow. To find out what attracted Novo to Halodoc, see Wider View: Novo Nordisk catches APAC telehealth wave to swell diabetes sales

3. Eisai, Voluntis pair up on cancer DTx

French digital therapeutics specialist Voluntis has gained a new commercial partner and shareholder through an alliance with Japanese pharma firm Eisai. The two companies will co-develop digital therapeutics based on Voluntis’ Theraxium Oncology software, to support cancer treatment. Pending regulatory approval, Eisai will be responsible for global commercialisation of these resulting products. The partnership also has the potential to extend beyond oncology and in disease areas of key interest to Eisai, such as Alzheimer's and dementia.

4. Healthtech in orthopaedics is not only about surgery

Stryker this week remarked how Q1 2021 was “a banner quarter” for its Mako orthopaedic robotic system. International sales of the product are taking off while the US continues to see strong demand, said Stryker in its earnings call. The popularity of Mako is backed by comments from our expert interviewee for this month’s KOL Views Q&A, Phillip Williams, Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Texas Health Science Center. He highlighted that a major advantage of using robotic systems like Mako is you get more reproducibility - “in terms of what I want the knee to feel like and what I want it to look like.” But there are other opportunities to bring health technologies - be it telehealth or virtual post-op therapy - into the orthopaedic practice, according to Williams. See KOL Views Q&A: Orthopaedics have more opportunities to go digital beyond surgery for the full interview.

5. Could Kry be Europe’s next Teladoc?

Swedish telemedicine company Kry has hit a $2 billion-valuation after clinching $300 million in series D funds. This venture round was also the week’s biggest. Kry’s core video consultation technology is already available in 30 European markets. Kry reported “over 100% year-on-year growth” in 2020, no doubt helped by COVID-19 and the subsequent boom in telehealth. For further evidence that virtual physician-patient interactions continue to gather momentum - even with lockdown restrictions having eased to some extent - look across the Atlantic. The US telemedicine market leader Teladoc this week reported Q1 2021 revenue of over $450 million, up 151% year-on-year. The company also expects its full-year revenue to be higher than previously forecast; it raised 2021 revenue target range from $1.95 billion to $2 billion to $1.97 billion to $2.02 billion.


Other top articles include:

One To Watch: Proximie’s remote interactive tech set to “force-multiply” surgical expertise

Verily bolsters commercial capabilities with two key hires

Medtronic seeks to bring real-time augmented reality into the OR for brain surgery

Computer-guided hip replacement with Smith+Nephew implants cuts revision risk: study

Physician Views: Where do digital therapies stand in rheumatoid arthritis treatment protocol?


Spotlight On, Wider View and One To Watch articles are available to FirstWord HealthTech PLUS subscribers (go to to request a free trial). 


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