Otsuka America Pharmaceutical is exploring opportunities to treat mental illness in the digital health realm.

Last month, the company launched Otsuka Precision Health (OPH), a data and technology company focused on digital health.

Otsuka tapped longtime executive Sanket Shah to serve as president of OPH and oversee its mission to support Rejoyn, a prescription-only digital therapeutic smartphone app for treating major depressive disorder (MDD).

Earlier this spring, the Food and Drug Administration cleared Rejoyn to serve as an adjunct to clinician-managed outpatient care for adult patients on an antidepressant medication to address the symptoms of MDD.

How Rejoyn works is that it provides interactive cognitive-emotional and behavioral therapeutic intervention to patients – including certain exercises, cognitive behavioral therapy-based lessons and text messaging.

This is all to encourage use of the app by way of evidence-based activities and lessons.

To showcase Rejoyn’s potential, Otsuka exhibited the product at the 2024 American Psychiatric Association (APA) Annual Meeting in New York last month.

Sanket said the reception and feedback at the APA meeting was largely positive, noting how many people were trying to understand how Rejoyn works. 

In the next four-to-six weeks, Otsuka plans to roll out its commercialization plan for Rejoyn.

Shah said the parent company created OPH to test a handful of different approaches to bring the product to market and get it into the hands of as many patients as possible. He said the feedback they received at the APA meeting aligned well with the approach they are taking to build out Rejoyn.

“We’re taking learnings across both Otsuka’s history within mental health treatment and digital health – as well as what others have done,” he said. “We’re also taking feedback from what we’re hearing directly from patients and what people are looking for to build out what they’re looking for – not what we’re looking for.”

One of the most important considerations, from his perspective, is the pricing element and ensuring that patients can consistently access the product. This will require feedback not only from patients and providers, but also from other partners that OPH is working with to achieve Rejoyn’s fullest potential.

OPH has confidence in the future of digital therapeutics to alleviate some of the stickier problems related to the nation’s ongoing and worsening mental health crisis, according to Shah, and wants to be able to provide solutions to patients so they can work with their HCP to the right option that works best for them 

OPH has ambitions of developing a wide range of solutions to address mental health challenges holistically, largely based on the company’s extensive experience and data in the field.

“We know where the problems are and where the challenges are,” he said. “Now, we’re going to start to think about broad solutions across the board to help address some of those things.”