The health/care ecosystem continues to morph as the stakeholder groups themselves are blurring across and outside of their core businesses. Today’s example of this is Clover Health, which launched Clover Therapeutics this week. This research organization will develop medicines targeting older adults — which makes sense because Clover Health’s target consumer market is Medicare Advantage beneficiaries.
“Clover Therapeutics was created to address the significant unmet needs in chronic progressive diseases in the Medicare population,” Cheng Zhang, Head of Clover Therapeutics, is quoted in the press release.
The company will first collaborate with Genentech (Roche) to research and develop therapies based on genomic factors that are risks for people developing diseases of the eye. The press release suggests that ocular diseases will be the first therapeutic area addressed, to be followed by other condition categories that impact people as they age.
Another example of a provider-as-drug-company is many coming together under the umbrella of Civica Rx, a non-profit organization comprised of hospital systems and health care philanthropies. The founding members are listed in the exhibit, and cover different mission models (religious, non-secular, for-profit, not-for-profit) and geographies. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is also collaborating with Civica Rx.
While the motivation of Clover Therapeutics is to identify and meet un-met needs of aging patients, for Civica Rx, it’s all about meeting the shortage of and pricing for lifesaving savings, the organization asserts. Launched in January 2018, Civica Rx started with pent-up demand for these medicines: nine months after launching, one-third of American hospitals had contacted the organization interested in accessing the generic drugs that Civica Rx was focused on supplying.
Demonstrating the blur between hospitals, insurance and pharma, Civica Rx appointed Martin VanTrieste, formerly Chief Quality Officer at Amgen, as CEO.
In May this year, Civica Rx signed an agreement with Xellia Pharmaceuticals to supply essential antibiotics to Civica’s member health systems. Xellia, FYI, is based in Denmark.
A third example of a drug-company-that’s-not-one will be Cigna, whose Ventures arm invested in GNS Healthcare this week. GNS is a drug discovery research company in precision medicine. Other investors in the round were Amgen Ventures, Celgene Health, Echo Health Ventures, Alexandria Venture Investments, and Gary Loveman who most recently was in management at Aetna.
The objective of this investment round is to further scale GNS solutions that personalize medicines to individual patients.
Note that Cigna acquired Express Scripts, the pharmacy benefit management company, last year which was the health insurance company’s on-ramp to life sciences.
Health Populi’s Hot Points: These three transactions represent non-drug companies’ drug company gestures. As Cigna’s press release for the GNS project says, “Cigna Ventures…works closely with entrepreneurs across the health care ecosystem to accelerate growth and innovation through the strategic use of capital and deep partnerships.”
The key words here are “entrepreneurs,” “health care ecosystem,” “innovation,” and “deep partnerships.”
GNS has already been hard at work to build out those deep partnerships with health ecosystem stakeholders including health plans, health care providers, and pharma and biotech companies some of which are shown in the table. Bedfellows like CMS (Center for Medicare and Medical Services — the focus of Clover Health/Clover Therapeutics), the National Cancer Institute, J&J, and Cambia, together dot the health/care landscape and demonstrate the quickening pace of partners shaking hands across siloes and business models to reach the Holy Grail GNS calls out in one of its campaigns.
That is, to generate “insights to cure disease and heal healthcare.”