News Feature | September 13, 2016

Google's Verily, Sanofi Launch Diabetes Joint Venture Onduo

Jof Enriquez

By Jof Enriquez,
Follow me on Twitter @jofenriq


Verily (formerly Google Life Sciences) and French pharmaceutical company Sanofi SA announced that they are investing $500 million in a joint venture called Onduo to address the rising pandemic of diabetes with solutions that merge devices and drugs.

Onduo initially will focus on the more common Type 2 diabetes, which affects 90 percent of the 422 million people who suffer from diabetes globally. The joint venture is the culmination of a year-long collaboration on diabetes management between Sanofi and the former Google Life Sciences team first announced last September. The partners have been developing “high-tech devices to improve diabetes care by for example using microchips to continuously monitor blood sugar levels in patients,” reports the Wall Street Journal.

“The company will leverage Verily’s experience in miniaturized electronics, analytics, and consumer software development, and Sanofi’s clinical expertise and experience in bringing innovative treatments to people living with diabetes,” according to the news release.

A Sanofi spokeswoman told Reuters that Onduo’s solutions would include connected devices such as insulin pens and online services.

Doctors and patients of Sutter Health of Northern California and Allegheny Health Network of western Pennsylvania will test Onduo’s diabetes platform and solutions, in a multi-stakeholder, service-centric approach to diabetes care.

“The integration of multiple interventions, such as data-driven patient support and devices in addition to treatment, can help improve outcomes, which is important from the perspective of patients, healthcare professionals and the overall healthcare system,” said Peter Guenter, executive VP and head of Sanofi’s Global Diabetes & Cardiovascular Business Unit.

“This is an innovative collaboration that spans the healthcare continuum and benefits from deep and cross-functional expertise, giving us unique potential to create tools and solutions that could have a positive clinical effect,” Jessica Mega, M.D., chief medical officer of Verily, added.

Onduo will be based in Cambridge, MA, and will be headed by newly appointed CEO Joshua Riff, M.D., formerly from UnitedHealth Group’s Optum.

Since becoming a standalone company and rebranding, Verily has been actively inking deals with pharmaceutical firms and medical device manufacturers, and diabetes care has been a focus. Last month, it announced a bioelectronics joint venture with GSK called Galvani Electronics to tackle several chronic conditions, including diabetes. A partnership with Dexcom is on track to launch its latest continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) device in 2018, and a next-generation disposable CGM is slated for 2021.

Also, Verily late last year launched a surgical robotics joint venture with Johnson & Johnson called Verb Surgical.

Sanofi, one of the world’s leading producers of diabetes drugs whose patents are expiring, wants to diversify through the kind of deal it entered into with Verily. In 2014, Sanofi also embarked on a collaboration with Medtronic to create new drug-device combinations for diabetes managemen