Roche Acquires Diabetes Tracking Startup mySugr

Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche has just bought the Vienna-based diabetes management platform known as mySugr. The amount of the purchase has not yet been disclosed, but with the growing competition in this field—app-based digital health services—the price is probably quite a significant one.

The core mySugr app, essentially, compiles data from connected devices all in one place. This includes functions like automatic logging of blood sugar, tracking of carbohydrates intake, bolus insulin tracking, a continuous glucose monitor, and hypoglycemic event data. In addition, users can add things like medication details, HbA1c results, pictures, and other blood glucose level metrics. They also have other mySugr apps like a Scanner that gives you instant and wireless transfer of your blood glucose readings from your meter to the app; and mySugr Academy which provides type-2 diabetes educational materials.

The mySugr had been privately held, but now the mobile device logbook app that helps people track blood sugar levels, medication schedules, and activity levels has been working with Roche since 2004. As a matter of fact, the app had previously received funding from Roche’s Venture Fund.

With this acquisition, then, Roche appears to be looking at strengthening their diabetes diagnostics business, an aspect that has struggled in the face of intense pressure over the past few years. The company has been forced to cut sales growth and consider significantly shifting their business focus. Roche, of course, would prefer to expand this unit, not to sell it.

According to a spokeswoman from Roche, “The investment reflects our commitment to our diabetes care business and to improving the lives of people with diabetes.”

More importantly, perhaps, this move somewhat underscores the industry push towards medical device makers to seek out wireless technologies and “big data” solutions. But this particular tech push goes far beyond just diabetes. Just last year, in fact, Roche rival Novartis teamed up with Qualcomm to develop an internet-enabled inhaler as a delivery mechanism for its new emphysema drug, Onbrez (expected in 2019).

Roche diagnostic head Roland Diggelmann comments, “We will be able to offer seamlessly accessible patient solutions within an open platform to better respond to the unmet needs of people with diabetes.”

At the end of the day, mySugr comments, “This is a momentous day for any startup, but for a team on a mission it’s even greater. Today we’re proud to announce that we’re joining the Roche family to help create an open digital diabetes ecosystem that revolves entirely around people with diabetes.”

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