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Pfizer puts hemophilia spin on ultrapopular Minecraft to educate young patients


Minecraft is popular—really popular. So it’s no surprise that Pfizer is looking to capitalize on that success.
The pharma giant has launched Hemocraft, a take on the ultrasuccessful video game that’s just for hemophilia patients. Developed in partnership with the Entrepreneurial Game Studio at Drexel University and representatives from the hemophilia community, the game is meant to help younger patients—between the ages of eight and 16—learn “the importance of integrating treatment into their routine,” Pfizer said.
How does Hemocraft do that? As part of their quest, game players interact with the so-called “village doctor”—a fictional healthcare professional—to learn how to adhere to their treatment plans and understand how their therapies work. They put that knowledge to use throughout the game, as they’re challenged to monitor factor levels and self-infuse to control bleeding.
If Hemocraft turns out to be a hit even a fraction of the size of Minecraft, Pfizer will be in good shape. The building game has sold more than 1 million copies around the world and ranks high among the most popular games ever created.
But Pfizer isn’t stopping there. It’s also rolled out a new piece of wearable tech: a wristband dubbed HemMobile Striiv. The wearable—the first made for hemophilia patients, Pfizer says—tracks activity levels and heart rate, and the company is offering it free of charge to all U.S. hemophilia patients, no matter what therapy they’re on. To use it, though, patients will likely want to download the HemMobile app—used to log bleeds and infusions, monitor factor supply and set appointment reminders–that Pfizer already offers.
“These new digital innovations can be integrated into everyday routines to help empower people with hemophilia to learn about and track different aspects relevant to their disease so that they can have informed conversations with their health care providers,” Kevin Williams, chief medical officer of Pfizer’s rare-disease unit, said in a statement.
Pfizer, which markets recombinant factor IX treatment BeneFix, is currently battling a host of companies in the hemophilia field, including Bioverativ, Novo Nordisk, Shire and Bayer. And things are only set to get more intense once gene therapies hit the scene.
At that point, though, the New York drugmaker is hoping to be in the thick of things; in late 2014, it struck a gene therapy collaboration with Spark Therapeutics over hemophilia B candidate SPK-FIX.