Understanding the different types of DTx
Understanding Digital Therapeutics (DTx) is key to understanding both its current and potential roles in the drug discovery lifecycle.
DTx utilises software solutions to prevent, manage and treat medical issues but delivering evidence-based therapeutic interventions. By using best practice and advanced technology in clinical evaluation, DTx products, once certified by the local regulatory body, help to empower patients and clinicians alike by providing them with safe and effective tools, driven by data, to ensure effective interventions.
To define the different types of DTx, it’s important to understand the core principles on which it operates.
Matching Drug Discovery Lifecycle to DTx
Many pharma companies labour under the misapprehension that for DTx to be effective it needs to be developed alongside the pharmaceutical product. Whilst co-development is a great route to market for a DTx/pharma product, one of the joys of DTx products is that they can fit into the cycle at any stage.
Looking at the types of DTx products available enables us to see where in the lifecycle they might fit:
- PDTx: Prescription Digital Therapeutics (PDTx’s) are medical interventions which use software as the central part in the prevention, management or treatment of illness.
- Companion DTx: DTx products that work alongside an existing course of treatment, whether pharmaceutical or physical therapy.
- Remote Patient Monitoring: The most recognisable form of DTx, remote patient monitoring allows patients to either actively or passively collect and collate their own data and share it seamlessly with DTx and pharma providers or clinical teams.
- Patient Support Programmes: Used heavily in scenarios like mental health scenarios, ongoing patient support DTx products can ensure not just adherence to a treatment regime, but also actively encourage it.
Broadly, there are five stages to the lifecycle of drug development, and DTx products can be designed to complement any of these.
Stage 1: Discovery & Development
Ecodevelopment is one of the most effective ways in which a pharmaceutical company and DTx provider can work together.
DTx offers huge advantages at this stage, as the pharmaceutical product and DTx product can be codesigned to complement one another. Whether it’s a new diabetes treatment combined with a wearable monitoring blood sugar, or a cardiovascular product and an app that monitors adherence to a post-surgery recovery plan, building the two products in tandem allows for a fully complementary treatment suite.
Stage 2: Preclinical Research
During these phases, there’s the opportunity for the organizations to decide whether or not a standalone product or a co-developed one will work best. With the initial trial cohorts, remote patient monitoring is also advantageous, providing real-time feedback that might otherwise take days to fully collate.
Stage 3: Validation & Review
One of DTx strongest suits is in its ability to support validation and clinical review. Because of the instantaneous nature of the data provided, DTx can help to speed up the review and validation process. It also allows for pharma to spot, significantly earlier than usual, any keys in the methodology or expected outcomes of their trials, enabling quick fixes and changes to methods of working.
Stage 4: Launch & Growth
By monitoring patient usage during and after the launch phase, DTx can help both patients and pharma companies alike with adherence. Small tweaks, taken from the insights DTx provides, can help to enable an increase in adherence to treatment plans, all of which can be done without following any of the traditional methods, like patient feedback seminars.
Stage 5: Post-market Monitoring & Evidence
One of the more commonplace DTx and pharma collaborations is during the post-launch stage. DTx apps are helping pharma companies receive instantaneous feedback and data on their products. Data points around patient usage, effectiveness, and the impact of external factors all help to feedback into the drug development lifecycle. This, in turn, improves all the other stages of the lifecycle.
Throughout all of these, Standalone PDTx, Companion DTx, & RPM can make a huge impact. For the latter, post-launch, stages, Patient Support Programmes are also incredibly useful.
If you are considering utilising DTx at any stage in your drug discovery lifecycle, it’s important to get the right partner. We’ve written about finding your perfect DTx partner here. Making sure you’ve got the right partner, and the right type of DTx is crucial to improving your drug discovery lifecycle, and we would be happy to work with you on this.