Roche acquires Flatiron Health in $1.9 billion deal

It is hoped the deal will ramp up cancer research through healthcare data and analytics.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

Roche has announced the acquisition of Flatiron Health in a deal worth $1.9 billion.

On Friday, the global pharmaceuticals conglomerate said the deal will "accelerate industry-wide development and delivery of breakthrough medicines for patients with cancer."

In a statement announcing the purchase, Roche said that Flatiron Health will continue to operate as a separate legal entity, but the acquisition will bring the firms together to "improve the lives of cancer patients through the evolving field of healthcare data and analytics."

Under the terms of the deal, Roche will hand over $1.9 billion to acquire all outstanding shares of Flatiron, subject to regulatory approval. Roche already holds a minority stake of 12.6 percent.

New York City, US-based healthcare technology firm Flatiron Health develops oncology-specific electronic health record (EHR) systems. Flatiron is also a partner of hundreds of cancer clinics, six major research facilities, and therapeutic oncology companies.

The company has developed an information exchange platform which allows "researchers and care providers to learn from the experience of every patient."

"We believe that regulatory-grade real-world evidence is a key ingredient to accelerate the development of, and access to, new cancer treatments," said Daniel O'Day, CEO of Roche. "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."

Both firms also insist that the Flatiron will continue to operate independently and the agreement will not impact the security and protection of patient information.

In addition, Roche and Flatiron say that the acquisition will "advance the use of real-world evidence to set new industry standards for oncology research and development."

Flatiron Health was founded by Nat Turner and Zach Weinberg in 2012. The pair says that "each patient's story has the unique potential to teach us something new about the way cancer works, and help us find more effective treatments, faster."

In a blog post, Turner, Flatiron Health co-founder and CEO said that the acquisition represents a "major milestone in a yet-to-be-finished story."

Turner and Weinberg hoped to bring together technology and healthcare when they founded the company and say this mission won't be affected by the deal; instead, it will give "Flatiron an accelerated ability to achieve our mission while continuing to operate independently with access to greater resources."

Roche has long shown an interest in Flatiron's mission, having led a Series C funding round in 2016. Flatiron was able to secure an investment of $175 million, bringing the total level of investment to $313 million.

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"This [funding] kicked off a strategic partnership whereby Roche Pharmaceuticals became a major client and a proponent of our industry-leading real-world evidence platform, helping develop our products and services as well as advance our efforts with the FDA and other stakeholders," Turner says. "We will continue to recruit and retain top talent, build a transparent culture, live our values, and perhaps most importantly, continue to fight for every single cancer patient."

The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2018.

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