Novartis and Pear Therapeutics Launch Collaboration Focused on Schizophrenia and Multiple Sclerosis


Basel, Switzerland-based Novartis AG inked a collaboration deal with Boston and San Francisco-based Pear Therapeutics to develop prescription digital therapeutics for schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis (MS). The deal will combine Novartis’ neurological, clinical development and commercialization expertise with Pear’s experience in prescription digital therapeutic design.

They will work to get Pear’s THRIVE digital therapeutic approved. It has proof-of-concept efficacy data and long-term engagement data from three clinical trials of more than 1,000 patients diagnosed with schizophrenia. They will also work to create a new application in MS, then move to the clinic.

“We look forward to working with Novartis, an organization known for excellence in biomedical science, to develop much needed treatments for patients suffering from schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis,” said Corey McCann, president and chief executive officer of Pear, in a statement. “Novartis shares our vision for prescription digital therapeutics that work alongside drugs to deliver superior patient outcomes. We believe this collaboration further supports the clinical viability of prescription digital therapeutics as an emerging treatment modality and we are poised to execute on that opportunity.”

In September 2017, cleared Pear’s lead product, reSET, a 12-week interval prescription therapeutic for Substance Use Disorder (SUD) which is used as an adjunct to starndard, outpatient treatment. It also has reSET-O in development for opioid use disorder (OUD) and Thrive for schizophrenia, reCALL for posttraumatic stress disorder, and reVIVE for general anxiety disorder. It is also looking at applications for pain, major depressive disorder, and insomnia.

Pear will work with Joris van Dam, Novartis’s executive director for digital therapeutics at the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research. John Carroll, with Endpoints News, writes, “Getting a heavyweight player in the biopharma industry to collaborate with five-year-old Pear is a big plus for digital medicine, where cognitive behavioral programs are being developed to help patients with chronic disorders. And the FDA is playing a key assist in the field, with new guidelines in the works on how these programs can prove themselves to offer proof of efficacy and safety.”

Pear’s mobile applications are not consumer health apps like those made for the iPhone, or that are found with the Apple Watch, Garmin or Fitbit products. Van Dam told Carroll, “These are therapeutic treatments prescribed by doctors and used by patients. You should treat it like a drug therapy, except it’s being prescribed and fulfilled by the cloud and not by the pharmacy.”

Carroll writes, “Novartis and Pear are planning on setting up clinical trials that can, for example, test how these interactive programs work on controlling the positive and negative symptoms associated with schizophrenia—including how you respond to hearing voices. And Novartis sees some ready benefit in keeping a cognitive behavioral program in your pocket. Unlike a therapist, says van Dam, you can run through a 15-minute program at your convenience, without journeying to a session. And they’ll have clinicians gather the data needed to meet the required endpoints, standards which are currently under review in a pilot program that includes Pear.”

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