Propeller Health’s acquisition: ten major reasons to pay US$ 225 million for a digital respiratory company

On December 3, 2018, ResMed, a medtech company focused on respiratory disorders, announced its intentions to buy Propeller Health, a Madison-based developer of connected inhaler solutions. ResMed has committed to pay US$ 225 million for a company that makes below US$ 10 million of yearly revenues. The deal highlights the immense potential that the digital respiratory market is offering. There are at least ten reasons why this deal will turn out to be a good investment for ResMed.  

Propeller Health operates in the digital respiratory market, selling connected devices and services for asthma and COPD patients and healthcare companies. The market that Propeller Health operates in is still a niche and lags three years behind other digital segments that focus on chronic conditions (e.g. diabetes). ResMed announced that it was interested not only in augmenting their mainstream business with Propeller Health’s digital medication adherence solutions but also in stepping into Propeller Health’s established partnerships with pharma, healthcare, and payor organizations. The deal should be closed by the end of March 2019.

Despite the market’s infancy, this huge investment makes sense. Major reasons for it can be divided into market-related and those relating to the company’s position within the digital respiratory market.


Market arguments:

1. An enormous addressable market: Asthma and COPD are one of the most dangerous epidemics, which affect both developed and developing economies. According to WHO, asthma and COPD affect more than 334 million and 250 million people worldwide correspondingly. Moreover, the prevalence of both conditions is expected to increase due to demographic, social, and behavioral factors.

2. Big digital opportunity: Digital respiratory solutions could target more than 270 million patients by 2023. The increase in prevalence of both major chronic conditions is set to drive the global digital respiratory opportunity, i.e. the total number of diagnosed patients with a capable mobile device that can provide access to digital services. The global digital asthma opportunity will increase to 152 million people, whereas the global digital COPD opportunity will grow to 121 million people by the end of 2023 (Digital Respiratory Report, Research2Guidance 2019).

3. The high lifetime value of asthma and COPD patients. The lifetime value varies from country to country. In the USA, the lifetime value of a COPD patient is estimated at US$ 200,000, whereas the lifetime value of an average asthma patient can be three times as big due to higher life expectancy. Digital solutions are expected to capture parts of these lifespan revenue streams.

4. The revenue opportunity for pharma companies. Digital respiratory solutions promise to improve patient’s medical adherence. The market for asthma and COPD related drugs is a multi-billion USD market reaching more than US$ 42 billion in 2018. Any improvement of medical adherence will have a direct impact on pharma’s revenues. 

Propeller Health’s market position:

5. The impressive network of industry partnerships that Propeller Health has built during its 8-year market life. Starting from 2013, Propeller Health has established partnerships with Boehringer Ingelheim (2013), GSK (December 2015), Aptar Pharma (February 2016), Vectura (May 2016), Novartis (February 2017). Apart from pharma and generic drug manufacturers, Propeller Health has succeeded in reaching other major stakeholders. All in all, the company claims to have established 65 commercial programs with pharmaceutical companies, pharmacy benefit managers and healthcare systems.

6. The global presence: The company’s programs have reached several thousands of patients across sixteen countries.

7. The extensive coverage of the available device-drug combinations. As Propeller Health has the highest number of partnerships with pharma, their add-on inhaler sensors cover nearly 90% of the currently available types of inhalers. Due to the partnership with GSK, Propeller Health’s portfolio includes such the world’s top inhaled corticosteroid drugs as Advair and Flovent.

8. The substantial clinical evidence, proven patient outcomes, and a wide portfolio of FDA clearances. Having received nine FDA clearances, Propeller Health has demonstrated clinical outcomes in 15 peer-reviewed studies. The company reported a 58% increase in medication adherence, a 79% reduction in rescue inhaler use, a 63% increase in asthma control, etc.

9. An outstanding market position in the digital respiratory market. Although hundreds of digital respiratory solutions are available globally, Propeller Health’s width and quality of service offering, as well as its partnership ecosystem, are outstanding.

10. Availability of SaaS services and the opportunity to roll-out a full-fledged patient monitoring solution. Apart from connected inhalers, Propeller Health offers an additional cloud-based patient management platform, which allows the company to decrease its dependency on device sales and create more value via SaaS business models.

The acquisition of Propeller Health perfectly demonstrates how investors value the untapped potential of the digital respiratory market. Connected inhaler solutions will stimulate the emergence and development of a more complex ecosystem, which will include other value-adding services, result in new business models, and eventually generate the revenue streams the investors are currently expecting.

More information about developments in the digital respiratory market is in our upcoming report “Digital Respiratory Market 2018: Current Status and Outlook”. Please follow our updates and announcements.