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GlaxoSmithKline is first drug company to use Apple’s ResearchKit

What makes Apple’s ResearchKit more attractive than your typical research institution-funded study is the standardization of data collection, as well as the ability to have participants enroll on their own and participate in studies from the comfort of their homes, drastically minimizing costs across the board. Interestingly enough, however, GlaxoSmithKline is the first pharmaceutical company to conduct a study through ResearchKit, reports Bloomberg.

Over a three-month period, Glaxo aims to involve 300 participants in a rheumatoid arthritis study that aims to include participants’ physical and emotional symptoms, such as pain levels and mood. More standardized data, such as the utilization of the iPhone’s sensors in order to record motion through a guided wrist exercise, will also be included.

The hope for the arthritis study, according to Glaxo head of clinical innovation and digital platforms group Rob DiCicco, is to inform any future clinical trials the drugmaker might want to conduct. However, there are potential shortcomings with using ResearchKit to conduct studies, something DiCicco partially acknowledged when he said, “One thing we’ll learn is whether we made it compelling enough to make you want to interact with it every day.”

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Indeed, there remains the possibility that participants will grow weary of constantly entering information into the app, as well as the possibility that the data itself will be skewed. More specifically, since the cheapest iPhone retails for $400, the participant pool might be skewed toward those with more money in their pockets.

Even so, much hinges on the success of Glaxo’s study. Not only is the company breaking new ground by becoming the first drug company to utilize ResearchKit, but the success of its study might allow for other pharmaceutical firms to conduct ResearchKit studies of their own. Furthermore, Glaxo’s entry diversifies the kind of institutions that have utilized ResearchKit up until now, which have included hospitals and universities.

Apple also has a stake in Glaxo’s app, given how the Cupertino, California-based company is seemingly committed to its health initiative. During its March “Loop You In” event, Apple announced CareKit, an open-source platform that compliments ResearchKit by giving patients the power to manage their medical conditions and care.