As an asthmatic, I always take an intellectual interest in companies that purport to serve asthmatics.
Recent coverage of Respiri Limited (ASX: RSH) has caused me to reflect that my experience as an asthmatic could add something to the pool of knowledge. There has not been enough consulting with actual sufferers of the disease before investors decide what they will buy. While some commentary included a medical perspective, I’ve not seen much that talks about what asthmatics want, and need.
What I need to save is my time and money.
Mercifully, modern medicine, by and large, does a wonderful job treating asthma. Even those of us who have it from infancy to adulthood live full lives. Only more severe cases prevent certain activities (though in my experience breathing the clean air of a scuba tank is just about as far from an asthma attack as I could get).
However, managing the disease takes time and money. Even in our publicly funded health system (thanks everyone!) asthmatics are rather out of pocket on buying the preventers, which do have side effects (such as increasing the chance of infection) that can make treatment a balancing act. From childhood, the bedtime ritual of ‘toilet, teeth and puffer’ was drilled into me like a mantra.
So I can see why an asthmatic might want help with adherence, such as through the solutions offered by Adherium Ltd (ASX: ADR). That could make it easier to keep track of dosing. That could be a time saver.
And MedAdvisor Ltd (ASX: MDR) can make the task of managing prescriptions, and refilling them on time much easier. Its latest feature “GP Link” allows asthmatics to reorder a script from their phone. That may or may not save them cash, but it certainly saves time. I’d say it has the potential to be even more valuable to asthmatics than Adherium (not to mention all people with chronic disease).
But I simply cannot see how Respiri saves either time or money for asthmatics. It’s already enough of a drag to have to take medication to control the disease. There’s no obvious gain to recording your wheeze on an App. Certainly, generations of asthmatics and their parents have had no trouble spotting and treating a wheeze (and using that to figure out the trigger).
The company’s website says; “The app features asthma management diary features; medication usage and reminders, and symptoms and triggers to help asthma sufferers gain a better understanding of how their condition affects them and importantly, help them better adhere to their treatment plans. Further features including weather conditions and pollen count are planned.”
All of this is available for free on the internet, with no need to buy a device for $169. MedAdvisor (which is also free for patients) also provides medication reminders.
Respiri shareholders must be disappointed. About four years ago, in 2013, under its former name, iSonea Limited (ASX: ISN) it announced “iSonea to Drive Aggressive AirSonea Sales Plan in Australia”. It announced receipts from customers of $2,000, last quarter.
Just as the company has disappointed shareholders, it may well disappoint customers. A website with information on the device (Edited: while the product appears available for sale, it is not possible to purchase it at this time) says, “AirSonea provides asthma sufferers with a portable, user-friendly way of controlling asthma.” You can see what I mean, below.
Personally, I am of the opinion that Respiri should not claim that its monitoring device allows patients to “control asthma.” Certainly, my peace of mind as an asthmatic comes from having an albuterol inhaler (which almost always does relieve asthma), in my pocket. Not sure about you, but I’m not keen to carry around yet another bit of hardware in my pocket — and it’s enough to have to remember to take a Ventolin (albuterol) when I go for a run. If you think it’s a good move for Respiri to claim it offers a “way of controlling asthma” let me know, and I’ll put you on a list of people which I will publish on Twitter. Personally, I’d hate to think someone might think the AirSonea device could replace Ventolin as a device to control asthma.
Now, anything can happen with small little companies, especially when a couple of big players own a lot of shares. In the past, Respiri has seen strong share price increases by virtue of coverage from commentators. I have no view on the share price movements — hype can achieve wonderful things — but I would not own Respiri Ltd Fully Paid Ord. Shrs (ASX:RSH) shares for the long term. As you can see below, the long term trend is clear.
While I have no current view on Adherium, but I think that it could succeed, so I will continue to watch with interest. I own shares in MedAdvisor because I think it saves time for those with chronic disease, without costing them a dollar. I note that relative juggernaut EBOS Group Ltd (ASX:EBO) recently bought shares in MedAdvisor at above the current share price, so if I’m wrong to own it, I’ll be in good company!
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Claude Walker is a Motley Fool investment advisor. He own shares in MedAdvisor. You can follow Claude on Twitter @claudedwalker. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool's purpose is to educate, amuse and enrich investors. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691).