Pharma companies bet big on 'smart' inhalers

Three pharmaceutical companies are racing to develop inhalers with sensor monitoring capabilities that could help patients maximize medication use.

GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca and Novartis are reportedly working with device makers and tech companies to get such devices into production, according to a Reuters report. The Internet of Things gadgets could help ensure correct use, which would lead to improved health for patients and also provide a new revenue stream for device makers.

"Technique is critical. You might have the world's best blockbuster drug in an inhaler, but if patients don't use it properly they won't get the benefits," Omar Usmani, an Imperial College London consultant physician, told Reuters.

AstraZeneca is prepping a yearlong clinical trial that may result in a totally new inhaler medicine option, and GSK is also planning trials, Reuters reports.

The advent of IoT devices in healthcare has been slow but steadily increasing as providers are seeking cost-effective approach to both patient care and in-house operations.

A Goldman Sachs report last year predicted a $305 billion in savings for the healthcare industry thanks to IoT devices. That's despite the fact the “first wave” of IoT is in an early development stage. Challenges include privacy, security, data capture errors and interoperability.

For more information:
- read the Reuters article