Biogen confirms closure of Biogen Digital Health, retreat from Apple Study


Multinational biotechnology company Biogen has confirmed it will shut down Biogen Digital Health, a global unit of the biotech company, and pull out of a study with Apple. Still, the company says it will continue to integrate some digital capabilities into other functions of its business. 

“As our CEO Chris Viehbacher mentioned when he announced Fit for Growth, part of the initiative is removing layers in the organization, becoming less complex and more agile, and making strategic investments in internal and external innovation. As a result, some functions are evolving their operating models,” a Biogen spokesperson told MobiHealthNews in an email. 

Biogen Digital Health launched in 2021, and it employs around 150 people in Boston, Zurich and Paris. The company focuses on merging biology and technology to improve neurology, immunology and mental health care. 

The biotech giant said digital medicine and health technologies will remain an essential part of its plan to de-risk and accelerate its research and development engine and its commercial operations. 

“Biogen Digital Health is evolving. We are currently assessing our digital strategy and potential future investments in the space, and we will be integrating certain digital capabilities from BDH into relevant functions. We will continue to advance a number of efforts, such as development of digital biomarkers for Parkinson’s and early AD [Alzheimer’s disease], as well as our digital solutions for rare diseases. Going forward, we will leverage external capabilities and partnerships to capture advances in the field that are closely linked to our evolving R&D and commercial priorities and areas of focus,” the spokesperson said. 

In 2021, the company began a study with Apple to analyze iPhone and Apple Watch sensor data and metrics to differentiate individuals with normal cognition from those with mild cognitive impairment to create a cognitive wellness score that follows shifts in cognitive performance over time. 

“Regarding the Intuition study with Apple, though it has been discontinued due to Biogen’s R&D prioritization efforts, because of the higher-than-expected level of engagement of participants, the study remains well positioned to address its primary objectives. Initial results support the feasibility, acceptability and capability to reach underserved and underrepresented populations and to reliably measure cognition and behavior in real-world unsupervised settings. Additional insights from the Study will be published at a later time,” Biogen told MobiHealthNews

THE LARGER TREND

Biogen announced it completed its acquisition of California-based pharma company Reata earlier this week for a reported $7.3 billion. The purchase adds SKYCLARYS to the company’s rare disease portfolio, the only FDA-approved treatment for Friedreich’s ataxia in the U.S.


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