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Roche Acquires Flatiron Health for $1.9 Billion

Mary Caffrey
Flatiron Health expects to maintain its current business model in the transaction.
Roche today acquired Flatiron Health, a leader in oncology-focused electronic health decision-making software and data storage. Flatiron, which taps a network of community oncology practices and research centers across the country, possesses tools that practices need to pursue the value-based care models that both Medicare and commercial payers believe are essential to rein in the escalating cost of healthcare as the population ages.

This is especially true in cancer care, and a statement on Roche’s acquisition touts Flatiron’s leadership in as a data curator as it pursues a personalized healthcare strategy, while vowing that Flatiron will maintain its independence.

“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 Pharmaceuticals. “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.”

The statement said that Flatiron “has worked with industry leaders and regulators to develop new standards for how real-world evidence is used in regulatory decisions,” including the creation of novel endpoints. “A key principle of this is to preserve Flatiron’s autonomy and their ability to continue providing their services to all existing and future partners,” O’Day said.

Roche made a similar move in the diabetes sector in 2017 when it acquired mySugr, a diabetes app with 1 million users that had earned a loyal following among those who track personal data to manage their condition.

In an interview last year with The American Journal of Managed Care®, Flatiron co-founder and CEO Nat Turner discussed the barriers to providing oncology care that the company seeks to dismantle, leading to democratization of care.

“For access, it’s really hard as a community practice to attract great clinical trials—you can if you have a local affiliation with a hospital, but if you’re just a small independent practice, access to clinical research can be rough,” Turner said.

Flatiron’s technology can also help independent practices stay that way, even in an era of shrinking margins and payer pressure, he said.

While Flatiron helps the smallest players, Roche touts its size as the world’s largest biotech company, with a footprint in oncology, immunology, infectious disease, ophthalmology, diabetes management, diagnostics, and central nervous system disease.

Roche already had a stake in Flatiron, and today Turner said, “Roche has been a tremendous partner to us over the past 2 years and shares our vision for building a learning healthcare platform in oncology, ultimately designed to improve the lives of cancer patients. This important milestone will allow us to increase our investments in our provider-facing technology and our services platform, as well as our evidence-generation platform, which will remain available to the entire healthcare industry.”

Flatiron expects to keep its current business model in the deal, maintaining the segregation of patient protected health information and provider-facing life science initiatives.

 
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