Roche Buys Flatiron in $1.9B ‘Big Data’ Move

The real-world evidence Flatiron's record system collects "is a key ingredient to accelerate the development of, and access to, new cancer treatmen...
Matthew HellerFebruary 15, 2018

Roche has agreed to acquire New York-based software startup Flatiron Health in a $1.9 billion deal that highlights the Swiss drug giant’s commitment to using data to develop new cancer drugs.

Flatiron offers electronic health record (EHR) software for doctors who are treating cancer patients. The information that doctors input into the system can be used by drugmakers to, among other things, speed up clinical trials by tailoring treatments to specific patients.

Roche already owned a 12% stake in Flatiron, which was founded by two former Google employees and has raised more than $300 million from investors.

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“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,” Roche Pharmaceuticals CEO Daniel O’Day said in a news release.

Forbes noted that Roche bought Igynta, a maker of targeted cancer drugs, for $1.7 billion last year and that the medical data space “has been heating up as the Food and Drug Administration, pressured by Congress, has expressed interest in using such ‘real-world’ data in the drug approval process.”

Roche “seems to be looking at data as the next big thing as it defends its dominance in oncology,” Forbes said.

Flatiron has been working with industry leaders and regulators, including the FDA, to develop new approaches for using real-world evidence in regulatory decision making. It currently partners with more than 265 community cancer clinics, six major academic research centers, and 14 out of the top 15 therapeutic oncology companies.

“Roche has been a tremendous partner to us over the past two years and shares our vision for building a learning healthcare platform in oncology ultimately designed to improve the lives of cancer patients,” Flatiron co-founder and CEO Nat Turner said.

“This important milestone will allow us to increase our investments in our provider-facing technology and services platform, as well as our evidence-generation platform, which will remain available to the entire healthcare industry,” he added.