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In Digital Health Push, Roche Buys Diabetes App Firm

In Digital Health Push, Roche Buys Diabetes App Firm
Joining a growing crowd of companies expanding into app-based digital health services, Vienna-based diabetes management platform mySugr was bought for an undisclosed price by Roche, the Swiss drugmaker said on Friday.
Helping people track everything from their blood sugar, medications and activity levels and offering a logbook for mobile devices to do that, mySugar is a company that is privately held. The company has previously got funding from the Roche Venture Fund and it has been working with Roche since 2014.
In recent years, the diabetes diagnosis business of Roche has seen it cutting into sales growth as it has faced fierce price pressure which had resulted in rumors in the market that the company was planning to unload the business but with the news of the acquisition, it has now become clear that Roche aims to strengthen a diabetes diagnostics business and come out of the hole that it is at the moment.
In recent years, another significant trend is that the medical device makers are seeking to harness wireless technology and "big data" and this latest takeover also reflects this latest push by the medical device industry towards that goal. For a similar platform to manage diabetes via smartphones, U.S.-based Glooko - another diabetes tech startup, has lured cash from Medtronic, and this is another example of that push.
However, it is not only the diabetes segment that is feeling the push. In order to make an internet-enabled inhaler for its emphysema drug Onbrez that is due out in 2019, Roche rival Novartis joined Qualcomm last year.
"We will be able to offer seamlessly accessible patient solutions within an open platform to better respond to the unmet needs of people with diabetes," said Roland Diggelmann, Roche's diagnostics head.
Co-founder Frank Westermann said that MySugr now has more than a million users. With its app available in 52 countries and in 13 languages, the company, with U.S. offices in San Diego, has 47 employees.
"With Roche’s diabetes expertise and global network, mySugr will become an indispensable companion," Westermann said in a statement.
Uploading of data via a Bluetooth connection to their smartphones automatically is possible for diabetes sufferers who use glucose meters to analyze their blood sugar levels with the help of mySugr's app.
And for doctors working with patients to manage the disease, the information can also be shared remotely from there.
Roche said that following the deal, mySugr will remain an open platform accessible for other manufacturers' devices.
But as Roche seeks to capture more customers for its glucose test strips that diabetics must purchase indefinitely, those who download the app have been able to get the Swiss company's Accu-Chek-brand glucose meters for free.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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