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Rani has developed a robotic pill to replace injectable biologics with oral versions
Steven Loeb and Bambi Francisco interview Mir Imran, Chairman and CEO of Rani Therapeutics, a company that has developed what it calls a "robotic pill" to replace injectable biologics with oral versions. Imran has founded over 20 companies, was one of the original angel investors in Google and developed the world's first implantable cardiac defibrillator. Rani Therapeutics, which recently raised a $69 million round of funding to bring its funding to over $200 million, places its technology on existing pharmaceuticals, allowing patients who need daily injections to do it pain-free by having it injected directly into their small intestine.
For these digital health podcasts, our goal is to also understand these three high-level questions: How are we empowering the consumer? Are we creating productivity that also allows us to see overall economic costs go down? How is this advancement changing the role of the doctor?
Highlights from the interview:
- Creating the robotic pill was a result of reframing the problem. For five decades scientists tried to resolve the delivery of biologic to oral as a chemistry problem, but had only modest success because most of the time the absorption of those drugs was less than 1 percent. Imran looked at it as more of a delivery problem, creating a capsule that the patient takes like any other pill, but it then transforms itself and delivers an injection inside the gut.
- The technology increases the chances of the patient getting their injection: according to Imran, compliance rates are 40 to 50 percent for injectables and 75 to 90 percent for oral pills.
- Rani has done trials with Humira, which treats 11 conditions including arthritis, plaque psoriasis, Crohn's disease, and ulcerative colitis, and the company will be able to address all of those. Other areas that the company is targeting right now are hemophilia and osteoporosis, especially for women, human growth hormone, hypothyroidism. In the future, the plan is to go after multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune conditions.
- The company has developed sensors to monitor patients, for example making sure they are taking their pills by sending an automated text message if they miss a dose. That real-time data is more valuable to the patient than giving them a summary of what they did last week, Imran says, and it puts more power into the hands of the consumer.
- Technologies such as sensors are going to take a lot of what physicians do not and put them in the hands of nurse practitioners. That will free up doctors to do complex diagnostics and take care of patients that require more complex interventions, thereby lowering the cost of care.
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