The competition for Apple’s Siri (/Cortana/Echo, etc.) heated up, as Google demo’ed their own voice-activated virtual assistant, part of Google Home, an Internet of Things interface. However, another contender for Siri’s crown, built by the team that created her and dubbed Viv, stole muchof Google’s spotlight. Google eschewed the cute name convention that adorns competitors, preferring to keep the focus on Home, with Google CEO Sundar Pichai quipping: “We want users to have an ongoing two-way dialog with Google. We’re building each user their own individual Google.”
Google also introduced Allo, a chatbot that anticipates your responses and offers swatches of text to speed up your chat sessions, and Duo, an answer to FaceTime.
Novartis plans to use a “medical device-like sales model” to promote its CAR T-cell technology, pending FDA approval, MM&M reports. “In this model, the manufacturer’s sales representative functions like a resource to the physician, often sitting in on surgeries and providing education and training.” CAR-T is an immunotherapy in which a patient’s T-cells are extracted, reengineered to recognize and kill cancer cells, and then reintroduced to the body.
Novartis has just broken out its oncology division as a separate unit in a reorg. The move comes as the company seeks to fill a big hole left by the expiration of patents on chemo drug Gleevec and a disappointing launch for heart failure treatment Entresto, which has faced market access hurdles in the U.S.
Pfizer, thwarted in its bid for Allergan, is acquiring a smaller company, eczema specialist Anacor Pharmaceuticals, which has a hopeful blockbuster atopic dermatitis drug called crisaborole pending approval by FDA. Some analysts see the $5.2 billion deal as part of an effort to bolster Pfizer’s innovation core ahead of a long-teased AbbVie-style breakup.
PwC has a study on wearables out. Among the highlights: half of Americans own at least one device – way up from 21% two years ago – and half of parents with a child at home own multiple wearable devices.
Pulitzered doctor-writer Siddhartha Mukherjee (The Emperor of All Maladies) is all overthe placeplugging his new book “The Gene: an Intimate History,” and you should just read everything he writes because it all sparkles with well-written sciencey goodness. But intriguingly, the oncologist is also in the news because he’s joined a biotech startup. Read the Times Magazine piece about how his practice is operating in the early days of personalized medicine, with a mix of meatball improvisation and cutting-edge science.