Respiri (ASX:RSH) asthma care beyond the clinic


by Rachael Jones

Respiri Limited (ASX:RSH) CEO Marjan Mikel discusses clinical results from the company's innovative asthma management tool wheezo, a combination eHealth app and handheld device, as well as the company's strategy and outlook.

Rachael Jones: Hello. I'm Rachael Jones for the Finance News Network. Joining me today from Respiri (ASX:RSH) is CEO and Executive Director, Marjan Mikel. Marjan, welcome to FNN.

Marjan Mikel: Hi. Thank you for that, Rachel.

Rachael Jones: Now, first up, could you start with giving us an introduction to the company?

Marjan Mikel: In the world today, there are over 340 million patients that suffer from asthma. And once they leave the care of their doctors, they have absolutely no way of knowing how well their asthma is being managed. This is where Respiri and wheezo come in. We provide the patients with a device and an eHealth SAS platform that allows them to monitor how well their asthma is being controlled and managed once they leave the care of their doctor, and then allow that information to be shared across their carer base.

Rachael Jones: Thanks, Marjan. Now, before we talk about the device, can you remind us about the incidence of asthma and how it is being managed?

Marjan Mikel: Asthma is the third-largest disease state to afflict the human race after cardiovascular disease and diabetes. For instance, in Australia, there are 2.7 million patients with asthma. That's about 11.5 per cent of the population. And even today, in this first world country of ours, 400 people die of asthma every year, and they shouldn't.

Rachael Jones: Well, now let's talk about your lead product for asthma. Can you explain for our viewers how it actually works?

Marjan Mikel: Fundamentally, the device itself is an electronic stethoscope, and what it does, you place it on your trachea, like, so, and it records the person's breathing for 30 seconds. Now, that recording is then analysed by one of our algorithms that then determines the level of wheeze within that person's breathing. A doctor can listen to the recording that a patient has taken at any given time in the past three months, let's say, and it's something that they can do, and then relate back to the other factors that were impacting that patient's condition, back in those days. We capture things like weather, pollen count, air quality, medication usage, symptomology. What wheezo does is provide a single repository where all that information is clouded, available to whoever wants to see it, and not rely on a patient's ability to recall what they were actually think feeling back in those days. So, the more information we capture, the more we learn about the patient's individual condition, and we can then send alerts to patients to warn them about high-risk days that they may be facing.

Rachael Jones: And how are your clinical results?

Marjan Mikel: Well, the clinical results we released about six weeks ago. And they were very, very positive. We can say that the wheezo is as good as an experienced physician in determining wheeze.

Rachael Jones: And what can you tell me about the regulatory approval for the device?

Marjan Mikel: We have got regulatory approval already in Europe and here in Australia. We recently submitted a 510(k) predicate application with the FDA. And that's basically a process of comparing ourselves to a device that's already approved by the FDA. And in this case, that device is actually an old device that Repsiri had approved back in 2014.

Rachael Jones: So where are you looking to sell the device?

Marjan Mikel: Interestingly enough, we've done quite a bit of research into those people that have the greatest touchpoints with patients with asthma. And one thing that came out loud and clear is that pharmacists are very important in this process. And we are channelling a lot of our energies into making sure that we provide the support to pharmacy to have discussions with patients they know have got asthma. And testament to that is we've formed a relationship with the Pharmacy Guild of Australia to create an educational program for pharmacists to help them with these discussions.

Rachael Jones: And now to finances and your share price. Could you provide a comment on both, starting with funding?

Marjan Mikel: Funding wise, we have options available to us. We could raise cash, we could debt fund, we could equity fund. And I guess what I'm saying is we have the luxury of those choices, which we've never had before, and cash is not an issue for us. And we're well cashed up at the moment with what we have to launch in Australia, quite readily.

With regards to share price. We've been very lucky this year that our shareholder base, the markets, are beginning to recognise what it is we're doing and how it is we're doing it. We set a path, a strategic path together at the beginning of the year where we made some commitments to our shareholders and the marketplace. The team has delivered on every one of those items on time and on budget. And I think we're starting to, or our narrative is starting to, resonate with the marketplace, and our share price has responded accordingly.

Rachael Jones: Marjan Mikel, thanks so much for that introduction and congratulations on your progress.

Marjan Mikel: Thank you very much.