With J&J deal to as­sess val­ue of Ap­ple watch in atri­al fib­ril­la­tion, tech gi­ant for­ti­fies its for­ay in­to health­care

Last week Ap­ple CEO Tim Cook said that in the fu­ture, when we all look back at his com­pa­ny, its great­est con­tri­bu­tion to mankind will have been about health. And now in a sig­nif­i­cant step to­wards Cook’s vi­sion, the phar­ma ma­jor John­son & John­son $JNJ has agreed to work with the Cu­per­ti­no-based tech gi­ant to test the di­ag­no­sis and out­comes of AFib pa­tients in a clin­i­cal tri­al.

The lat­est it­er­a­tion of Ap­ple Watch drew gasps of in­trigue when it was re­vealed the de­vice con­tained a sim­ple elec­tro­car­dio­gram able to de­tect signs of atri­al fib­ril­la­tion (AFib) — a com­mon heart con­di­tion that rais­es the risk of stroke and is typ­i­cal­ly seen in the el­der­ly. While the FDA signed off on the sen­sor — Ap­ple has been care­ful to un­der­score that the watch can’t di­ag­nose any­thing or re­place a doc­tor.

Ap­ple has al­ready sunk its talons in­to the health in­sur­ance in­dus­try — with its health team set­ting up part­ner­ships with Aet­na and Unit­ed Health­care to sub­si­dize the cost of its watch, and is re­port­ed­ly in talks with pri­vate Medicare plans to bring it to at-risk se­niors.

In 2017, the com­pa­ny tied up with Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty to eval­u­ate pre­vi­ous edi­tions of the watch in a large-scale heart study, and last year Ap­ple joined forces with med­ical de­vice mak­er Zim­mer Bio­met in a bid to use the health da­ta cap­tured by the watch to de­ter­mine why some pa­tients re­cov­er faster from knee and hip re­place­ments.

Paul Stof­fels, J&J

The deal with J&J is an­oth­er big step that so­lid­i­fies Ap­ple’s — and the larg­er tech sec­tor’s — in­creas­ing­ly cozy re­la­tion­ship with the health­care in­dus­try.

De­tails on the de­sign and num­ber of pa­tients to be in­clud­ed in the mul­ti-year study are not clear, but the com­pa­nies said it will take place in the Unit­ed States and en­roll in­di­vid­u­als over the age of 65. The goals of the tri­al in­clude mea­sur­ing the out­comes of a heart health en­gage­ment pro­gram with ir­reg­u­lar rhythm no­ti­fi­ca­tions on the watch, and as­sess­ing the im­pact of a med­ica­tion ad­her­ence pro­gram us­ing a J&J app.

AFib is the most com­mon form of heart ar­rhyth­mia that typ­i­cal­ly af­fects the el­der­ly, and some peo­ple who have it don’t ex­pe­ri­ence any symp­toms, mak­ing its di­ag­no­sis tricky. Be­tween 2.7–6.1 mil­lion Amer­i­cans are af­flict­ed with the con­di­tion, ac­cord­ing to the CDC. As the US pop­u­la­tion ages, those num­bers are set to rise.

“Too many peo­ple liv­ing with AFib are un­aware of their risk, and ear­li­er de­tec­tion, di­ag­no­sis and treat­ment of AFib could sig­nif­i­cant­ly im­prove out­comes. Based on the in­sights gen­er­at­ed through this re­search pro­gram, we may be able to de­vel­op new ways to de­tect oth­er health con­di­tions ear­li­er in the fu­ture that al­so ex­hib­it mea­sur­able phys­i­o­log­i­cal symp­toms,” J&J chief sci­en­tif­ic of­fi­cer Paul Stof­fels said in a state­ment.

Tri­als like this one can so­lid­i­fy the po­si­tion of the Ap­ple Watch as a cat­e­go­ry-defin­ing tech­nol­o­gy. All it needs now are the da­ta to prove it.


Tim Cook, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Ap­ple, speaks dur­ing an event at the Steve Jobs The­ater in Cu­per­ti­no Get­ty Im­ages

IDC: Life Sci­ences Firms Must Em­brace Dig­i­tal Trans­for­ma­tion Now

Pre-pandemic, the life sciences industry had settled into a pattern. The average drug took 12 years and $2.9 billion to bring to market, and it was an acceptable mode of operations, according to Nimita Limaye, Research Vice President for Life Sciences R&D Strategy and Technology at IDC.

COVID-19 changed that, and served as a proof-of-concept for how technology can truly help life sciences companies succeed and grow, Limaye said. She recently spoke about industry trends at Egnyte’s Life Sciences Summit 2022. You should watch the entire session, free and on-demand, but here’s a brief recap of why she’s urging life sciences companies to embrace digital transformation.

Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Eric Piermont/AFP via Getty Images)

Up­dat­ed: Hit by an­oth­er PhI­II flop, Sanofi culls breast can­cer drug — sound­ing alarm for the class

Sanofi is officially giving up on its oral SERD.

The French drugmaker put out word Wednesday morning that it will discontinue the global development program of amcenestrant, the selective estrogen receptor degrader once billed as a top late-stage prospect. Having already failed a Phase II monotherapy test earlier this year, a combo with the drug also missed the bar in a second trial for breast cancer, triggering the decision to drop the whole program.

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Bayer's first DTC ad campaign for chronic kidney disease drug Kerendia spells out its benefits

Bay­er aims to sim­pli­fy the com­plex­i­ties of CKD with an ABC-themed ad cam­paign

Do you know the ABCs of CKD in T2D? Bayer’s first ad campaign for Kerendia tackles the complexity of chronic kidney disease with a play on the acronym (CKD) and its connection to type 2 diabetes (T2D).

Kerendia was approved last year as the first and only non-steroidal mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist to treat CKD in people with type 2 diabetes.

In the TV commercial launched this week, A is for awareness, B is for belief and C is for cardiovascular, explained in the ad as awareness of the connection between type 2 and kidney disease, belief that something can be done about it, and cardiovascular events that may be reduced with treatment.

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James Mock, incoming CFO at Moderna

Mod­er­na taps new CFO from PerkinElmer af­ter for­mer one-day CFO oust­ed

When Moderna hired a new CFO last year,  it didn’t expect to see him gone after only one day. Today the biotech named his — likely much more vetted — replacement.

The mRNA company put out word early Wednesday that after the untimely departure of then brand-new CFO Jorge Gomez, it has now found a replacement in James Mock, the soon-to-be former CFO at diagnostics and analytics company PerkinElmer.

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Tom Barnes, Orna Therapeutics CEO

UP­DAT­ED: 'We have failed to fail': Mer­ck gam­bles $250M cash on a next-gen ap­proach to mR­NA — af­ter punt­ing its big al­liance with Mod­er­na

Merck went in deep on its collaboration with Moderna on new mRNA programs, and dropped them all over time, including their RSV partnership. But after writing off what turned out as one of the most successful infectious disease players in the business, Merck is coming in this morning with a new preclinical alliance — this time embracing a biotech that hopes to eventually outdo the famously successful mRNA in a new run at vaccines and therapeutics.

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Joe Jonas (Photo by Anthony Behar/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

So­lo Jonas broth­er car­ries Merz's new tune in Botox ri­val cam­paign

As the lyrics of his band’s 2019 pop-rock single suggest, Joe Jonas is only human — and that means even he gets frown lines. The 33-year-old singer-songwriter is Merz’s newest celebrity brand partner for its Botox rival Xeomin, as medical aesthetics brands target a younger audience.

Merz kicked off its “Beauty on Your Terms” campaign on Tuesday, featuring the Jonas brother in a video ad for its double-filtered anti-wrinkle injection Xeomin.

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Marisol Peron, Genmab SVP of communications and corporate affairs

Gen­mab launch­es cor­po­rate cam­paign am­pli­fy­ing its ‘knock your socks off’ an­ti­bod­ies

Genmab often talks about its “knock-your-socks-off” antibodies — and now the term is getting its own logo and corporate campaign.

The teal and purple logo for the acronym KYSO — Genmab pronounces it “ky-so” — debuts on Wednesday and comes on the heels of Genmab’s newly announced 2030 vision. That aspiration aims to expand Genmab’s drug development beyond oncology to include other serious diseases, while also doubling down on its own drug development.

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President Joe Biden signs the Democrats' landmark climate change and health care bill. From L-R: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC), Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL). (Susan Walsh/AP Images)

Pres­i­dent Biden signs ma­jor drug pric­ing re­forms in­to law: What's com­ing for bio­phar­ma?

President Joe Biden yesterday afternoon signed into law historic, decades-in-the-making new drug pricing reforms as part of a wider reconciliation bill that will likely take a chunk out of biopharma companies’ profits for some blockbusters just prior to generic or biosimilar competition.

The partisan bill (all Democrats in the House and Senate voted for it, and all Republicans voted against it) includes not only Medicare price negotiations — which won’t kick off until 2026, leaving ample time for a legal challenge — but mandatory inflation-related rebates, and a $2,000 annual cap on what seniors’ pay for their prescription drugs.

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Paul Perreault, CSL Behring CEO

CSL CEO Paul Per­reault de­ter­mined to grow plas­ma col­lec­tion af­ter full-year sales dip

As the ink dries on CSL’s $11.7 billion Vifor buyout, the company posted a dip in profits, due in part to a drop in plasma donations amid the pandemic.

However, CEO Paul Perreault assured investors and analysts on the full-year call that the team has left “no stone unturned” when assessing options to grow plasma volumes. The chief executive also spelled out positive results for the company’s monoclonal antibody garadacimab in hereditary angioedema (HAE), though he isn’t revealing the exact numbers just yet.