Engelhard & Maalouf: a smart inhaler for asthmatics

November 3, 2015

smart inhaler asthma gecko health

Rescue inhalers are commonly used by asthmatics, as necessary, during asthma attacks. But people with asthma sometimes use maintenance inhalers, on a prescribed schedule, to prevent attacks.

As with other prescription medications, patients sometimes forget or don’t adhere to the prescription, sometimes causing hospital visits and leading to preventable health care costs.

Now MIT spinout Gecko Health, with its recent acquisition by Teva Pharmaceuticals, aims to boost development on its sensor that attaches to inhalers to monitor usage, with aims of keeping patients healthy and cutting health care costs.

“It’s not about selling the company, but really being able to achieve what you want to achieve,” says Gecko Health co-founder and CEO Yechiel Engelhard MBA ’12.

There are more than 25 million people living with asthma in the United States. Non-adherence to inhaler prescriptions, especially in severe cases, can cost each patient anywhere from $700 to $4,000 annually in preventable medical costs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Improved inhaler adherence could potentially cut health care costs drastically, Engelhard says. But collecting data for patients, he adds, also helps empower asthma patients in the age of health and wellness wearables.

“The idea is to make things very transparent and easy to understand — anything to make you a smarter patient,” says Engelhard, who launched the startup with Mark Maalouf MBA ’12, who was Gecko Health’s chief technology officer before the acquisition.  Read more

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