Swiss pharma company Roche buying Alphabet-backed oncology data startup for $1.9B

Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche announced it will pay $1.9 billion to acquire Flatiron Health, a startup founded by two former Google employees focusing on oncology-based electronic health record (EHR) software.

Roche already owned 12.6 percent of the company, having been one of its biggest backers along with Alphabet’s GV (formerly known as Google Ventures). The privately-held Flatiron has amassed a “large network of community oncology practices and academic medical centers” as partners on its platform and “curation and development of real-world evidence for cancer research,” according to a Roche press release.

“This is an important step in our personalised 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. “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.”

Roche said it expected the transaction to close in the first half of 2018. Flatiron will continue to operate as a separate entity, Roche said, with the same business model, network and objectives, along with maintaining a segregated repository of patient information and “dedicated sales and marketing, provider-facing and life science business activities.”

“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,” said Nat Turner, co-founder and CEO of Flatiron.