Digital health lawsuits. Express Scripts pressure. Facebook + Pharma.
CB Insights celebration

Prescription For Drug Price Inflation

We analyzed where large pharmaceutical companies are investing in private markets. You can see the full research on our blog, but here are some interesting notes:

  • For the most part, pharma companies invest or acquire smaller biotech/pharma outfits as a means of outsourced R&D in areas like experimental cancer treatments, orphan disease, fungal disease, etc.
  • Novartis was the most active player between their venture arm and parent company.
  • Certain investors like Merck's Global Health Innovation Fund have a particular focus on digital health. Roche has a particular interest in genomics, including their $1B+ acquisition of Foundation Medicine and investments in Fabric Genomics and Second Genome.

See the rest of the research here, including who has made multi-billion dollar acquisitions and companies with the most pharma investors on their cap table. 

If you're a client of CB Insights, here's a deal search to see the line-by-line deal activity of these players.

Finger Pointing

Speaking of pharma companies, there have been quite a few stories in the past year about price gouging. But pharma says it's not them, it's the middlemen like pharmaceutical benefit managers (PBMs).

Companies like Express Scripts are supposed to negotiate down drug prices on behalf of pharmacies, but whether they pass the cost savings to consumers is now being called into question and is also why Express Scripts lost its biggest client.

To make matters worse for Express Scripts, a certain tech company that specializes in price transparency, logistics, and getting better deals for their customers seems to be entering the arena. If you don't know who I'm talking about, this is a live look at their CEO as he made this plan (maybe). 

It's not just big tech companies, we put together a list of new startups in the pharmaceutical distribution space. These companies are hoping to provide a significantly better user experience in buying drugs, which will hopefully eventually get them enough customers to negotiate with pharma companies directly and eliminate the middleman like PBMs.

These pressures might mean Express Scripts feels some heat. They announced their desire to make strategic acquisitions several times in their last earnings call, and have already made 2 private market plays this year, the first time since 2012. We can probably expect more from them in the near future.

Stay healthy,


Big Pharma’s Bets: Where They’re Investing Across Genomics, Biotech, and Digital Health

The most active pharma investors since 2014 are Novartis, Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, and Celgene. See the research.
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Rx Is Going Online And On-Demand — 12 Companies Working In Prescription Drugs Distribution

From on-demand delivery of prescriptions to virtual pharmacists, startups are transforming the distribution of medicine to those who need it. See the startups.
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Healthcare In Hand: 49 Mobile Health Startups In A Market Map

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This Week in Digital Health
A curated mix of recent articles on digital health financings, exits, announcements, hirings, partnerships & perspectives.

Notable Deals

Outcome Health reaches unicorn status. The company, which provides tablets to doctors' offices programmed with patient education software, has raised $500M in its first fundraising round, valuing the company at over $5B.

Grail merges with Cirina. The Illumina spin-out and cancer diagnostics startup GRAIL has merged with China-based Cirina, also working on early-stage cancer detection.

Constant Therapy acquired. A developer of mobile apps for patients with speech, language, and learning disorders, Constant Therapy was recently acquired by Digital Health Corp, having previously raised $2.74M.
Business Wire

Klinify raises. Zuellig Pharma has acquired a corporate minority stake in Singapore-based Klinify, developers of a tablet-based EMR platform.
Digital News Asia

Kinnser Software acquired. Mediware Information Systems has acquired health software provider Kinnser Software in order to expand into the home health and hospice spaces.
Business Wire

Sharecare. The company has raised a $60M equity round from Summit Partners to support the growth of their health and wellness management platform.

DocDoc acquired. Russia's national savings bank Sberbank has acquired a majority stake in medical appointment booking platform DocDoc.

DocPlanner Series D. Poland-based online booking platform DocPlanner raised a $16.7M Series D with participation from Target Global and One Peak Partners.

BlueCross BlueShield raises. BlueCross BlueShield Venture Partners has closed on an additional $10M for its third fund, bringing its total raise to $145M.
PE Hub


Pacemaker device security. A report from the security firm WhiteScope has revealed more than 8,600 flaws in cardiac pacemaker systems ranging from a lack of encryption to simple bugs in the code.

Blink Health lawsuit. NY-based Blink Health, an online provider of discounted medications, is being sued for $30M by an early investor claiming the company is guilty of fraud and breach of contract, among other allegations.

Texas amends telemedicine law. Texas has eliminated the requirement that physician-patient relationships must be established in person prior to a telemedicine visit, making it the last state to do so.

Facebook's pharma strategy. While Facebook builds out its health team, the company is holding a summit on June 6th in New York that will be geared to marketers in the pharmaceutical industry.

23andMe launching new experiment. The genomics company will enroll 20,000 patients in their new study in order to, "understand genetic factors associated with experiencing pain and response to medications that help alleviate pain."
MIT Technology Review

eClinicalWorks settles lawsuit. The EHR vendor will pay $155M to settle a False Claims Act lawsuit alleging it did not meet certain certification requirements laid out in the HITECH Act.

Microsoft partners with Practo. India-based appointment booking platform Practo Technologies will be integrated into Bing Search in order to simplify the process of booking appointments, seeing reviews, and ordering lab tests. Integration will initially cover 38 cities in India and 10 languages.
Gadgets 360

Articles & Perspectives

Kleiner Perkins report. KPCB partner Mary Meeker has published her annual "Internet Trends" report with a special focus on the digitization of healthcare, EHR adoption, wearables, and genomics.

Profile of a Silicon Valley doctor. Dr. Mally Maloof (@drmollymd), a general practitioner who works with Silicon Valley investors and entrepreneurs, discusses her data driven approach to primary care, the perils of Bulletproof Coffee, and her expansive use of biomarkers.

Singaporean healthcare system. Over the last few years, the Singapore Ministry of Health has bolstered the country's position in digital health, developing prototypes for smart logistics systems in hospitals and a national health record database, among other initiatives.
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