Shire and MicroHealth Working on App to Improve Care of Hemophilia Patients Resistant to Treatment

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by Charles Moore |

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Shire announced it is working with MicroHealth to develop a free and secure digital monitoring mobile app for hemophilia A and B patients with antibodies, known as inhibitors, that infer with clotting factors they are using to treat their disease.

MicroHealth was co-founded by Aaron Craig, who has hemophilia A, and Dr. Marc Lara, a former Columbia University mobile health clinical trials researcher. The company aims to improve hemophilia patient care and outcomes by leveraging mobile technology and a social health network to make it easier for patients and healthcare professionals to jointly monitor chronic care plans.

The mobile app, an upgrade on an existing app launched in 2011 for hemophilia patients without inhibitors, will be capable of setting reminders, tracking, storing and selectively sharing personal health data, including photos and bleed alerts, with patients’ care team members. The current app is free to download worldwide, in both English and Spanish, on Apple and Android  devices. Patient data is protected through industry-standard security and privacy protocols.

Shire will help MicroHealth to refine and customize the tool with new features and information, specifically for the 5 to 7 percent of hemophilia patients with inhibitors. 

Inhibitors are antibodies developed by the patient’s immune system that block the necessary formation of blood clots because the inhibitors wrongly identify an infused clotting factor as a foreign substance and attacks the factor before the treatment works to stop the bleeding. Hemophilia patients with inhibitors are particularly difficult to treat.

Bypassing agents, an alternative method to control bleeding, are the current standard of care for hemophilia patients with a high amount of inhibitors.

The two companies remain independent in the collaboration and Shire will not have access to any associated patient, caregiver, or other third-party data.

“At Shire, we want to do everything we can to help people manage their hemophilia and to limit the burden of the disease on their everyday lives,” Patty Torr, head of U.S. Hematology, Shire, said in a press release. “Enhancing the existing MicroHealth app with new functionality and resources to address the needs of hemophilia patients with inhibitors is an important innovation for this group of patients.”

While prophylactic treatment or preventative care that help either train the body to tolerate the therapy or bypass the inhibitor to help stop bleeding is now the recommended approach for managing many hemophilia patients, difficulties associated with maintaining this treatment regimen can result in a lack of adherence that leaves patients at risk for bleeds and joint damage. The MicroHealth app was conceived to make it easier for hemophilia patients to manage their care in coordination with a healthcare provider.

“I created the MicroHealth app with a keen understanding of the challenges and complexities of managing hemophilia based on my own experiences living with severe hemophilia A,” Craig said in the release. “I wanted to develop a tool that would help streamline hemophilia care to produce stronger adherence. We’re excited to partner with Shire on extensions to the app to better support patients with inhibitors and their care teams.”

The MicroHealth app is currently used by an estimated 20 percent of hemophilia patients in U.S. on prophylactic treatment, according to a presentation at the Thrombosis and Hemostasis Societies of North America (THSNA) 2016 summit.

Scientists from the Indiana Hemophilia & Thrombosis Center in Indianapolis and MicroHealth presented results of a 12-month study analyzing the effect of HTC digital monitoring on annual bleeding rates, showing that hemophilia A patients who monitored via the app by their healthcare provider via the app reported bleeding rates 57 percent lower than patients without digital monitoring, or nearly 3.5 fewer bleeds per year.