Pharma companies look to Apple’s ResearchKit for R&D
Pharma companies are moving into a new area in drug R&D, by using Apple’s ResearchKit platform to gather data from iPhone users to draw on when developing new drugs.
When it launched in March, Apple bosses promised the ResearchKit platform would provide access to a ‘diverse, global population’ – which pharma firms are now seeking to tap into to mine data for drug development.
ResearchKit allows iPhone apps to be used in medical research, by collecting research data from volunteer iPhone users who have opted to take part in medical research studies through the firm’s iOS software platform.
Six apps have been created by researchers at universities, medical centres and non-profit organisations for ResearchKit, in areas such as diabetes, asthma and heart disease.
Now pharma companies GSK and Purdue Pharma are considering using ResearchKit to aid their drug R&D by introducing it into their clinical trials, with the hope of improving patient engagement. Purdue and GSK would be the first pharma companies to work with ResearchKit, should they persevere with the tool.
Best known for OxyContin painkillers, Purdue Pharma – a privately-held multi-billion dollar drug developer based in Connecticut, US – is thought to be in the early, proof of concept stages of exploring whether to use Apple’s ResearchKit for collecting research data, and weighing up whether it can be used as part of the firm’s drug R&D efforts. This will depend on the type of data the company needs to collect.
Larry Pickett Jr, Purdue’s vice president and chief information officer, says: “People have been talking about it for a long time, but haven’t been able to figure out how to leverage that data and take advantage of it. My team views ResearchKit as a very significant milestone in being able to move that capability ahead.”
The popularity of the ResearchKit among pharma companies indicates the potential of the tool for pharma and biotech companies. Apple’s senior vice president of operations, Jeff Williams, says:
“We’re open to working with anybody that is going to make an impact on people’s health. So we’ve made ResearchKit open-source so Apple won’t even control who uses it. We will control what we put on our App Store, but we won’t control who uses it. And so I think the promise of using ResearchKit for the development of drugs, if they’re lifesaving, I think that’s a positive thing.”
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