AstraZeneca has formed a pact with New Zealand-based Adherium in what the latter says could be a world-first commercial arrangement combining digital health technology with blockbuster inhaler medications to boost health outcomes.

Under the deal, Adherium will supply innovative new devices and sensors that AZ can then incorporate into global patient support programs for patients with the respiratory conditions COPD and asthma, providing a wealth of useful data to the drug giant.

The agreements represent “a major advance in the treatment and management of respiratory disease, and will make a fundamental difference to the quality of life for people with asthma and COPD,” noted Adherium managing director and chief executive Garth Sutherland.

According to the firm, less than 50% of asthma patients adhere to their prescribed preventative medications. Using an Adherium Smartinhaler is clinically proven to increase adherence by up to 59% in adults and 180% in children with asthma, and there is also evidence to show a reduction in severe episodes by 60%, “a profound improvement on current best practice”.

“By providing objective and accurate data on a patient's medication usage, we can now for the first time develop treatment plans tailored to each patient, and in doing so dramatically improve their quality of life,” noted Adherium chairman Doug Wilson.

Further terms of the deal were not released.