Sanofi and Verily Life Sciences LLC, (formerly Google Life Sciences), an Alphabet company, today announced the launch of Onduo, a joint venture created through Sanofi and Verily’s diabetes-focused collaboration. The joint venture is based in Kendall Square in Cambridge. Onduo’s mission is to help people with diabetes live full, healthy lives by developing comprehensive solutions that combine devices, software, medicine, and professional care to enable simple and intelligent disease management.
Under the leadership of Onduo’s newly appointed Chief Executive Officer, Joshua Riff, M.D., M.B.A., the company will leverage Verily’s experience in miniaturized electronics, analytics, and consumer software development, and Sanofi’s clinical expertise and experience in bringing innovative treatments to people living with diabetes. Dr. Riff joins Onduo from Optum, the health services company of UnitedHealth Group, where he was senior vice president of prevention and wellbeing.
“My experience as a physician and in leading consumer health initiatives has shown me the daily burden of living with diabetes,” said Dr. Riff, CEO, Onduo. “From monitoring food intake to testing glucose levels to actively seeking medical care, the challenges both on the physical and mental well-being of a person living with diabetes are incredibly difficult. We want to develop solutions that allow people living with diabetes to focus on the things they love and enjoy in life by providing tools to make dealing with their diabetes less burdensome.”
Initially, Onduo will focus on the type 2 diabetes community, specifically on developing solutions that could help people make better decisions about their day to day health, ranging from improved medication management to improved habits and goals. Over time, the company plans to expand its focus to include the type 1 diabetes community, and eventually to people at risk of developing diabetes with the goal of helping them better prevent the onset of the disease.
“The integration of multiple interventions, such as data-driven patient support and devices in addition to treatment, can help improve outcomes, which is important from the perspective of patients, healthcare professionals and the overall healthcare system,” said Peter Guenter, Executive Vice President, Head, Global Diabetes & Cardiovascular Business Unit, Sanofi. “The new company Sanofi and Verily invested in will adopt a more service-centric approach and support doctors in their efforts to treat their patients more effectively. In addition to developing innovative therapies for diabetes which will remain a key focus for Sanofi, we see these solutions which combine innovative therapies and services as the future for diabetes care. We believe this will help societies cope with the burden of this epidemic.”
Joining Forces with Experts and Advocates
Onduo is taking a multi-stakeholder approach to diabetes management by involving the diabetes community, clinicians, payers and healthcare professionals in the product development process. Sutter Health of Northern California and Allegheny Health Network of western Pennsylvania are among the first healthcare networks to collaborate with Verily and Onduo to test the Onduo platform with healthcare professionals and people with type 2 diabetes in a clinical care setting. Sutter Health’s not-for-profit network of physicians, hospitals, outpatient surgery and specialty centers and other healthcare services, including home health and hospice, medical research and education/training, cares for more than 3 million patients. . Allegheny Health Network is an academic healthcare system consisting of eight hospitals, outpatient surgery centers, health and wellness pavilions, a research institute and more than 1,100 employed physicians. Premier Medical Associates, part of Allegheny Health Network, is the largest multi-specialty physician practice in the Greater Pittsburgh area.
“This is an innovative collaboration that spans the healthcare continuum and benefits from deep and cross-functional expertise, giving us unique potential to create tools and solutions that could have a positive clinical effect,” said Jessica Mega, M.D., M.P.H., chief medical officer of Verily. “Our goal is to connect the dots for health care providers on the ‘moments of truth’ that happen outside of the clinical setting, and to help people manage diabetes on a daily basis. Our collaborations with health networks like Sutter Health and Allegheny Health will help bring that vision to life.”
Additionally, Onduo is discussing with patient advocacy groups like Taking Control of Your Diabetes (TCOYD) to provide input on future product designs.
“With Onduo, Sanofi and Verily are bringing forward a platform that is novel and critical in diabetes management,” said, Steven V. Edelman, M.D., Founder and Director, TCOYD. “Onduo is a company focused on the improvement of health outcomes through the marriage of technology and medicine. Its information-based solutions align well with TCOYD’s mission to empower people with diabetes and their loved ones to effectively and easily take control of diabetes. We welcome and support Onduo’s efforts and look forward to their progress.”
Joshua Riff, M.D., M.B.A. Named CEO
Dr. Riff is an emergency medicine physician by training. He was most recently the senior vice president of prevention and well-being at Optum, the service arm of United Healthcare. Prior to that, Dr. Riff served as medical director at Target, where he ran the health plan for Target team members and provided medical oversight to their clinics and pharmacies. He completed his M.D. and M.B.A. at Tufts University in conjunction with Brandeis University in Boston, Mass. After medical school he completed his residency in Emergency Medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Diabetes is a chronic disease characterized by elevated blood sugar due to inefficient or deficient insulin production. In 2014 it was estimated that globally, 422 million people suffer from the disease.1 Diabetes can be classified in two major subsets, type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the pancreas stops making insulin and therefore must be regulated via daily administration of insulin. Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder in which a person’s body produces insulin, but is not able to regulate it efficiently. Over time, the disease can result in serious or life threatening complications, including damage to the heart, eyes, kidneys and nerves.2 Research suggests that the recommended self-care regimen for people with type 2 diabetes on oral medications requires at least two hours daily.3 It has been estimated that the global economic burden of diabetes is U.S. $827 billion.