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Proteus Funding Shows Big Dreams for Digital Health

As technology companies large and small circle the burgeoning business of personal health monitoring, one the pioneers in the field, Proteus Digital Health, has raised another $120 million in funding in one of the largest venture rounds of the year. The company’s ingestible sensors, which track the efficacy of drugs from inside the body, are among the first Food and Drug Administration-approved digital health monitoring devices and show how such technologies could have a major impact on many types of medical care.

Consumer health monitoring products have gotten much of the attention of late; Samsung last week unveiled the Simband, an open-platform health-related wristband that integrates software and services, as well as a cloud-based service that collects and stores data from devices like the Simband and other third party apps. Apple is also developing a watch-like device that can be used for health tracking, according to people close to the company. Startups such as Fitbit are also in the game.

Proteus, by contrast, is one of a handful of companies focused on clinical applications for new digital technologies, a difficult endeavor that can involve many years of trials and FDA scrutiny. (The company has been in business since 2003, and has now closed seven rounds of financing.) Proteus on Monday also announced that it has hired the former chief financial officer of Hewlett-Packard’s $4 billion software division, Steve Fieler, as CFO and added Jonathan Symonds, the chairman of HSBC and the former CFO of pharma giant Novartis, to the board—the sort of marquee hires that often portend a public offering.

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“The Proteus case is a success story for FDA,” says Nancy Myers, president of Catalyst Healthcare Consulting. “Few realize the number of big picture thinkers at the agency who are willing to take the time to work with a company and collaboratively establish a regulatory pathway for a novel product.”