Pfizer is partnering with Nordic digital therapeutics company SidekickHealth to advance patient wellbeing across Europe via a digital therapeutics platform. The solution combines scientific expertise and digital technologies, giving patients a new tool to help them maintain healthy lifestyles, improve their disease management and quality of life, while providing guidance and resources to facilitate easier and faster communication between them and their healthcare professional.
The collaboration is designed to empower patients to take control of their health and focuses on a number of therapeutic areas. First, for patients in Finland suffering from the two main inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) conditions, ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s disease (CD), and then for patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), atopic dermatitis (AD) and psoriatic arthritis (PsA).
During 2020, the platform will also be made available for UC and RA patients in Sweden, Belgium, Netherlands, Ireland, Switzerland and Austria, with plans to expand the reach.
“At Pfizer we are committed to enabling health living, and as part of this we are constantly looking for new partners and digital solutions that can significantly improve the lives of patients,” said Rob Day, Western Europe Cluster Lead, Inflammation and Immunology Group at Pfizer. “Partnering with digital experts such as Sidekick will further support Pfizer’s breakthrough therapies in an area where the burden of disease among patients is significant.”
The platform provides patients with a rich user experience, where they are motivated to manage their nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress and medication adherence. They also receive educational information on their condition and are linked to a community of healthcare professionals and other patients who can share relevant health expertise and experiences.
“Pfizer continues to be at the forefront of the transformation of medicine, and we share their vision to empower people to better manage their own health and improve their quality of life,” Sidekick co-founder and chief executive officer Dr. Tryggvi Thorgeirsson said. “Our partnership with Pfizer has the potential to help a vast number of people do just that across multiple geographies, and as such, is precisely what we created Sidekick to do.”
“We founded the company six years ago with a strong belief that digital health solutions could and would expand the reach and impact of traditional treatment of chronic disease. Over the past six years, we have seen the world taking significant steps towards such a future, and this collaboration is an exciting example of that on a large scale,” he added.
For IBD alone, it is estimated that there are as many as three million sufferers in Europe, costing up to €5.6 billion per year in direct healthcare costs[i]. The societal costs are even greater in terms of diminished productivity[ii], as well as psychological issues, such as anxiety and depression[iii]. These indirect costs place a significant economic burden on society – in the case of ulcerative colitis this is up to 68% of the total cost[iv], with the true cost more likely to be in the tens of billions of euros. By providing patients with the ability to better manage their own health, with ongoing information and support, it allows them to tailor their care. Beyond the potential patient benefits, this could also result in a reduction of the impact of autoimmune diseases on healthcare organizations.
To help address the patient, societal and economic burden, Pfizer and Sidekick sought input from stakeholders via several patient panels as well as through collaboration with patient advocacy groups and key opinion leaders to maximize the impact of the platform.
The company was founded by two medical doctors, who had worked for years treating tens of thousands of patients with lifestyle-related illnesses. A staggering 68% of all deaths are due to lifestyle-related illnesses and the two co-founders, frustrated with dealing with the consequences, realized that a new approach was needed to prevent chronic illnesses and help patients already suffering from such diseases to better manage them, boosting their quality of life and triggering much improved health outcomes. The result from this collaboration was an idea to create a clinically-validated solution built on science, rooted in behavioral economics, which would be scalable across multiple therapeutic areas and drive it with gamification to maximize engagement and positive health outcomes. Currently Sidekick collaborates with pharmaceutical leaders, healthcare payers and providers.
At Pfizer, we apply science and our global resources to bring therapies to people that extend and significantly improve their lives. We strive to set the standard for quality, safety and value in the discovery, development and manufacture of healthcare products, including innovative medicines and vaccines. Every day, Pfizer colleagues work across developed and emerging markets to advance wellness, prevention, treatments and cures that challenge the most feared diseases of our time. Consistent with our responsibility as one of the world’s premier innovative biopharmaceutical companies, we collaborate with healthcare providers, governments and local communities to support and expand access to reliable, affordable healthcare around the world. For more than 150 years, we have worked to make a difference for all who rely on us.
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[i] Burisch J, Jess T, Martinato M, Lakatos PL. The Burden of Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Europe. J Crohns Colitis 2013; 7 (4): 322 – 37
[ii] Rocchi, A. et al. Inflammatory bowel disease: a Canadian burden of illness review. Can. J. Gastroenterol. 2012; 26; 811–817
[iii] Mikocka-Walus A, Pittet V, Rossel JB, von Kanel R. Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety are Independently Associated with Clinical Recurrence of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Clin Gastro & Hepd 2016; 14 (6); 829-835
[iv] Cohen RD et al. Systemic review: the costs of ulcerative colitis in Western countries. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2010; 31; 693-707