Roche pays $1.9B for Ex-Googlers’ tech start­up Flat­iron Health

Phar­ma gi­ant Roche is step­ping a foot firm­ly in the tech world, putting down $1.9 bil­lion to buy a soft­ware com­pa­ny found­ed by two ex-Googlers.

Nat Turn­er

The com­pa­ny, called Flat­iron Health, is de­vel­op­ing tech for life sci­ence, aca­d­e­mics, and hos­pi­tals. Roche was al­ready a fi­nan­cial backer for the New York City-based com­pa­ny, pre­vi­ous­ly own­ing 12% of Flat­iron be­fore the buy­out. Adding up its ex­ist­ing stake, Roche is pay­ing more like $2.1 bil­lion to get its hands on the com­pa­ny.

Be­sides Roche, Flat­iron’s biggest in­vestors in­clude Al­pha­bet’s GV (for­mer­ly Google Ven­tures). The com­pa­ny was found­ed by ex-Google em­ploy­ees Nat Turn­er and Zach Wein­berg.

Flat­iron has an elec­tron­ic health record sys­tem used by on­col­o­gists that col­lects da­ta, which lat­er be­comes use­ful to drug­mak­ers.

Zach Wein­berg

This lat­est deal high­light’s Roche’s in­creas­ing in­ter­est in tech­nol­o­gy com­pa­nies. It’s pre­vi­ous­ly part­nered with 23andMe and Foun­da­tion Med­i­cine.

“This is an im­por­tant step in our per­son­al­ized health­care strat­e­gy for Roche, as we be­lieve that reg­u­la­to­ry-grade re­al-world ev­i­dence is a key in­gre­di­ent to ac­cel­er­ate the de­vel­op­ment of, and ac­cess to, new can­cer treat­ments,” said Roche CEO Daniel O’Day in a state­ment. “As a lead­ing tech­nol­o­gy com­pa­ny in on­col­o­gy, Flat­iron Health is best po­si­tioned to pro­vide the tech­nol­o­gy and da­ta an­a­lyt­ics in­fra­struc­ture need­ed not on­ly for Roche, but for on­col­o­gy re­search and de­vel­op­ment ef­forts across the en­tire in­dus­try. “

A new era of treat­ment: How bio­mark­ers are chang­ing the way we think about can­cer

AJ Patel was recovering from a complicated brain surgery when his oncologist burst into the hospital room yelling, “I’ve got some really great news for you!”

For two years, Patel had been going from doctor to doctor trying to diagnose his wheezing, only to be dealt the devastating news that he had stage IV lung cancer and only six months to live. And then they found the brain tumors.

“What are you talking about?” Patel asked. He had never seen an oncologist so happy.

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David Ricks, Eli Lilly CEO (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Eli Lil­ly set to in­vest $2.1B in home state man­u­fac­tur­ing boost

Eli Lilly is looking to expand its footprint in its home Hoosier State by making a major investment in manufacturing.

The pharma is investing $2.1 billion in two new manufacturing sites at Indiana’s LEAP Lebanon Innovation and Research District in Boone County, northwest of Lilly’s headquarters in Indianapolis.

The two new facilities will expand Lilly’s manufacturing network for active ingredients and new therapeutic modalities, including genetic medicines, according to a press release.

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US sees spike in Paxlovid us­age as Mer­ck­'s mol­nupi­ravir and As­traZeneca's Evusheld are slow­er off the shelf

New data from HHS show that more than 162,000 courses of Pfizer’s Covid-19 antiviral Paxlovid were administered across the US over the past week, continuing a streak of increased usage of the pill, and signaling not only rising case numbers but more awareness of how to access it.

In comparison to this week, about 670,000 courses of the Pfizer pill have been administered across the first five months since Paxlovid has been on the US market, averaging about 33,000 courses administered per week in that time.

Pfiz­er and CD­MOs ramp up Paxlovid man­u­fac­tur­ing with Kala­ma­zoo plant ex­pan­sion lead­ing the way

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to evolve, pharma companies and manufacturers are exploring how to step up production on antivirals.

Pfizer is planning to expand its Kalamazoo-area facility to increase manufacturing capabilities for the oral Covid-19 antiviral Paxlovid, according to a report from Michigan-based news site MLive. The expansion of the facility, which serves as Pfizer’s largest manufacturing location, is expected to create hundreds of “high-skilled” STEM jobs, MLive reported. No details about the project’s cost and timeline have been released, but according to MLive, Pfizer will announce the details of the expansion at some point in early June.

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FDA spells out the rules and re­stric­tions for states seek­ing to im­port drugs from Cana­da

The FDA is offering more of an explanation of the guardrails around its program that may soon allow states to import prescription drugs in some select circumstances from Canada, but only if such imports will result in significant cost reductions for consumers.

While the agency has yet to sign off on any of the 5 state plans in the works so far, and PhRMA’s suit to block the Trump-era rule allowing such imports is stalled, the new Q&A guidance spells out the various restrictions that states will have to abide by, potentially signaling that a state approval is coming.

Franz-Werner Haas, CureVac CEO (Christoph Schmidt/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)

Tak­ing an­oth­er shot at mR­NA glo­ry, Cure­Vac inks on­col­o­gy pact while keep­ing up with Covid work

CureVac may have lost out on the initial mRNA race to bring a Covid-19 vaccine to the market, but it’s still eager to prove that it has what it takes to be a serious player in the field.

As it updates investors on its second-generation vaccine candidates for infectious diseases in Q1 results, the German biotech says it’s beefing up its oncology pipeline.

To that end, it has struck a new collaboration with Belgium’s myNEO, which boasts of a neoantigen discovery and selection platform, to identify new targets for mRNA immunotherapies.

Peter Thompson, Terremoto Biosciences interim CEO

For­mer Prin­cip­ia team looks to shake up co­va­lent small mol­e­cules again, this time at 'earthquake' scale

Terremoto Biosciences goes back a long ways, in a sense, to about a dozen years ago when Principia Biopharma was founded by UCSF professor Jack Taunton. Peter Thompson initially helmed the biotech.

The company helped expand covalent small molecule inhibitors beyond oncology and into autoimmune disease by targeting cystine. But that amino acid is uncommon in a lot of proteins, offering fewer drug targets than, say, lysine, which is present in most proteins of interest. So, over the years, Taunton went back to the drawing board to check out that second amino acid.

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Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla at the World Economic Forum (Gian Ehrenzeller/Keystone via AP Images)

All about ac­cess: Pfiz­er moves to a non-prof­it mod­el for drug sales in 45 low­er-in­come coun­tries

Leading the way to increase access to cheaper drugs worldwide, Pfizer said Wednesday it will provide all current and future patent-protected medicines and vaccines available in the US or EU on a not-for-profit basis to about 1.2 billion people in 45 lower-income countries.

Rwanda, Ghana, Malawi, Senegal and Uganda are the first five countries to sign on to this accord, which will also seek to blaze new paths for quick and efficient regulatory and procurement processes to reduce the usual delays in making new medicines and vaccines available in these countries.

Almirall is tapping artificial intelligence on behalf of its sales force for insights and efficiencies. (via Shutterstock)

Almi­rall rolls out sales rep ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence sys­tem, cut­ting pre-call prep and 'wind­shield time'

Dermatology specialty pharma Almirall is making its sales reps smarter. Not with extra training or educational courses, but instead with artificial intelligence tools.

It began a soft launch of a sales rep AI and machine learning platform it calls Polaris last August in one of its 7 US coverage regions. The platform from Aktana gathers information from across Almirall internal sources and external ones – such as claims and prescribing data – to generate insights for reps. Now, instead of spending hours prepping for a sales call, Polaris can generate details about a physician’s preferences, past behaviors and prescription habits for reps in minutes, said Almirall head of commercial operations Vincent Cerio.

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