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Sanofi signs with Google unit on drug/electronics combinations

Joint venture Onduo will pursue type 2 diabetes treatment and maintenance regimens

by Rick Mullin
September 18, 2016 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 94, ISSUE 37

In a marriage of drugs and electronics, Sanofi and Google-owned Verily Life Sciences have launched a type 2 diabetes collaboration. Called Onduo, the venture intends to develop therapies that combine medicine, devices, software, and patient care in a regimen the partners describe as “intelligent disease management.”

Onduo’s goal is to develop therapeutic approaches that assist patients in managing medication and making day-to-day decisions on health habits and goals. Onduo plans to expand to include type 1 diabetes treatment and diabetes prevention. “The integration of multiple interventions, such as data-driven patient support and devices in addition to treatment, can help improve outcomes,” says Peter Guenter, head of Sanofi’s diabetes and cardiovascular business.

Sanofi and Google are each contributing half of the approximately $500 million behind the venture. It will be led by Joshua Riff, who most recently held the position of senior vice president of prevention and well-being at Optum, the health service arm of UnitedHealth Group.

Speaking last week at a Morgan Stanley health care conference in New York City, Elias Zerhouni, Sanofi’s president of R&D, said Onduo hopes to have its first integrated system in clinical trials in 2018. Sanofi is also exploring the use of sensor technology in cardiovascular disease treatment, he added.

The pact is the latest move by Google, via Verily, into the medical realm. Last month, GlaxoSmithKline and Verily formed Galvani Bioelectronics, which is focused on combining drugs and miniaturized electronic devices. And in 2014, Novartis’s Alcon eye care division licensed Google’s smart lens technology, which can incorporate sensors into contact lenses to measure glucose levels in eye fluids for diabetes management.

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