Digital Health

Astellas Expands into Heart Failure Digital Therapeutics

Astellas Pharma and Eko Health announced an alliance that will combine Eko’s digital stethoscope and CVD detection software with Welldoc’s chronic care management capabilities as the core components of Astellas’ new Z1608 digital therapeutic for heart failure.

The home-based and patient-operated digital therapeutic solution looks to put heart failure patients “at the center of their care,” combining:

  • Eko Health’s new CORE 500 smart stethoscope, which provides audio enhancement, AI-based heart disease detection, and 3-lead ECG arrhythmia assessments
  • Welldoc’s Chronic Care Management digital therapeutic platform, which analyzes patient data and provides real-time digital coaching
  • American Heart Association-provided educational content focused on helping heart failure patients and caregivers develop lifestyle plans

Astellas will next research whether Z1608-based monitoring and coaching improves home HF management and reduces acute decompensation events, using those outcomes to support its FDA clearance and future commercialization efforts.

Some might be surprised by Astellas’ expansion into heart failure DTx given its history as a traditional pharma company and relatively limited role in cardiology (it also produces the Lexiscan SPECT MPI stress agent). 

  • However, Astellas is among a growing group of large pharma companies looking to expand into digital health (also: Bayer, Roche, Pfizer, Novartis, BMS) and is positioning what it calls its “Rx+ BUSINESS” as a core part of its corporate strategy.

Expanding to patient homes through virtual care programs is also a logical part of Eko Health’s strategy, in addition expanding its smart stethoscopes and software across traditional healthcare locations and provider roles.

The Takeaway

Astellas and Eko Health’s DTx announcement didn’t generate much press coverage or social media buzz amid yet another busy week in the cardiology and digital health arenas. 

However, the Z1608 might have deserved more attention given that it sits at the epicenter of some of the biggest trends in medicine (home-based care, personalized monitoring, DTx for chronic care, digital pharma) and will be distributed by a $11B healthcare company with thousands of U.S. employees.

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