Biogen launches new app, Aby, for patients with MS

By Laura Lovett
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Biogen has just launched a new app, called Aby, aimed at giving people living with multiple sclerosis (MS) accurate and reliable information about the condition and support.

The app is free and gives users articles, tips and inspirations about living with the condition. It also provides patients a personal journal, where they can create custom treatment reminders, track appointments, and record symptoms, mood and physical activity. App users can also access exercise videos that were developed by healthcare specialists in the MS community that are designed specifically for people living with MS. 

Developers have created interactive features in the app, as well, where users can reach out to nurse educators with questions about the condition. 

The pharma company has shown an active interest in using digital tools to help patients with MS. In 2015, Biogen Idec teamed up with Google X, Google’s business unit for a long-term “moonshot” project, to study outside factors that might contribute to the progression
MS. The companies planned on using sensors, software and data analysis tools to collect and analyze data from MS patients. 

The company’s digital connection to MS is related to its more conventional offerings; on the drug development side, Biogen has a MS drug listed in phase three clinical trial and another in phase two, according to its . 

But Biogen isn’t the only pharmaceutical company interested in using digital to help patients with MS. In March Novartis inked a deal with Pear Therapeutics, a digital health company, to developed two digital therapeutics including one for MS and another for schizophrenia. At the time of the announcement, Pear said that it was the first time a pharma company made a development deal with a digital therapeutic. 

“If we define digital therapeutics as the best in class drugs that are approved based on clinical efficacy and safety, then it is almost the opposite question we should be asking: why wouldn’t a pharma industry, or a company like Novartis want to, in fact need to, be in the space?” Jeremy Sohn, vice president and global head of digital business development and licensing at Novartis, said at a panel discussion at BIO 2018 last week. 

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