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Sidekick Health to Acquire German PDT Company Aidhere

The transaction places Sidekick in a position to potentially introduce the Zanadio PDT to payer partners in the US. But will CMS struggles loom in the shadows?

Katie Hobbins

October 13, 2023

3 Min Read
Sidekick Health CEO Dr. Tryggvi Thorgeirsson
Image courtesy of Cision PR Newswire

Sidekick Health, a digital health company, recently announced it has entered the prescription digital therapeutics market with a strategic acquisition of Aidhere, a developer of PDTs in Germany. The acquisition means the company will bring Zanadio into the fold, a successful PDT that has fulfilled over 50,000 prescriptions and is recognized and permanently approved within Germany’s regulated nationwide DiGA (Digitale Gesundheitsanwendungen) for prescribable digital apps.

The app was developed to provide a digital and multimodal weight reduction treatment for patients diagnosed with obesity. Use of Zanadio, according to Aidhere, saw 8% of patients experiencing long-term behavioral change and significant weight loss. The PDT is fully reimbursed for patients with a BMI from 30 to 40 kg/m2.

Zanadio became a big factor when deciding to acquire Aidhere, according to Sidekick Health’s CEO Dr. Tryggvi Thorgeirsson, in the press release announcing the acquisition. “Developing and distributing prescribed therapeutics has always been core to our long-term vision, and when we were introduced to Aidhere's remarkable products and exceptional team, we knew that joining forces was the right step to take.”

Now, the transaction places Sidekick in a position to potentially introduce the PDT to payer partners in the US, as well as co-develop PDT products with global pharmaceutical companies.

"Aidhere has a strong and respected track record within the digital health industry, with one of the most successful PDT products in the world,” Thorgeirsson said. “This acquisition brings market-leading products and a depth of expertise in [PDTs] to Sidekick, as we enhance and build on our patient care offerings in the digital health and therapeutics space with our global partners.”

However, the US market may prove to be more challenging than Germany when it comes to PDT insurance coverage. US marketed PDT companies have struggled in recent years to get covered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), leading to choppy waters for those once thought to be on the forefront of the PDT movement. Most notably, Pear therapeutics called it quits in early 2023 due to insurance coverage issues with its app.

At the time it announced the company was filing for bankruptcy, Pear CEO and founder said in a LinkedIn post, “We’ve shown that clinicians will readily prescribe PDTs. We’ve shown that patients will engage with the products. We’ve shown that our products can improve clinical outcomes. We’ve shown that our products can save payors money. Most importantly, we’ve shown that our products can truly help patients and their clinicians. But that isn’t enough. Payors have the ability to deny payment for therapies that are clinically necessary, effective, and cost-saving.”

Other companies have also experienced the challenges in PDT coverage, like Better Therapeutics, which cut 35% of its workforce in March. The company then saw its gamble pay off in July when its PDT won an FDA nod.

Another PDT company, Akili Interactive, ditched the prescription pathway altogether and decided to take an over-the-counter approach to market its therapeutic app after an inability to obtain CMS coverage.

“Today, we are evolving our business to remove barriers for patients trying to access safe and effective non-drug treatment options,” said Eddie Martucci, CEO and co-founder of Akili, in a statement at the time of the announcement. “We have the unique ability to offer consumers the same clinically-proven technology as the world’s only FDA-approved prescription video game treatment, with the ease of access and convenience of a consumer tech product. A non-prescription model removes reliance on intermediaries, which we believe will give us more control over our growth and enable us to build a lasting, sustainable business.”

About the Author(s)

Katie Hobbins

Managing Editor, MD+DI

Katie Hobbins is managing editor for MD+DI and joined the team in July 2022. She boasts multiple previous editorial roles in print and multimedia medical journalism, including dermatology, medical aesthetics, and pediatric medicine. She graduated from Cleveland State University in 2018 with a bachelor's degree in journalism and promotional communications. She enjoys yoga, hand embroidery, and anything DIY. You can reach her at [email protected].

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