20 Big Pharma and biotech mobile apps - 2013


Smartphones and tablets succeed or sink on the strength of their apps. Over the past few years, this has given Apple ($AAPL) a huge advantage. If you wanted the latest apps, Apple was the only choice. Blackberry ($BB), Microsoft ($MSFT) and even Google ($GOOG) weren't even in the race.

Now, though, this is starting to change, and the 2013 class of Big Pharma and biotech apps is a decent barometer of the shift. While biopharma used to introduce apps on Apple devices first and Google's Android later, if at all, the past year has seen the rise of simultaneous launches. Sanofi ($SNY) summed up the new way of working when it spoke of adopting a "device agnostic" app-development strategy.

Recent launches by the French drugmaker--such as heparin-dosing app CLX Dosis--show that this policy is starting to shape its output. Other companies are taking similar approaches, all of them aware that the sheer scale of Android--particularly in emerging markets--makes it impossible to ignore. Apple still has some biopharma exclusives, but the days of this being an obvious decision are coming to an end.  

Growth in the numbers of Apple and Android devices has extended the potential reach of biopharma apps, and companies have responded by diversifying their output. As well as adherence, diary and text-based education apps, this year's list features a mutant-cheese-fighting game from Genentech, a glaucoma simulation from Merck ($MRK) and a real-time bus schedule from Biogen Idec ($BIIB).

With biopharma supplementing in-house app initiatives by supporting offerings from other healthcare organizations, the number of new products exceeds the scope of this feature. Even after doubling the size of the 2011 list and combining multiple apps from the same firm into single entries, this piece falls short of being exhaustive. Merck KGaA, Mylan ($MYL) and Teva ($TEVA) are notable absentees. (The 2012 list can be found here.)

Nonetheless, we hope the list gives you a taste of how biopharma approached mobile apps in 2013, which will go down as the last year the industry operated without final FDA guidance. If you know of any great apps we missed--or want to sound off on those we included--please get in touch. -- Nick Paul Taylor (Twitter)

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