Is science data or is data science? Riddle me this. Speaking at the recent Nordic Life Science Days, Richa Wilson, Associate Director, Digital and Personalized Healthcare at Roche indicated “data will continue to evolve from clinical trials and registries and in the future from real-time and linked data. There was ~150 exabytes health data in 2015 and in 2020 it’s expected to grow to 2300 exabytes, mainly from digital health apps and hospital scans. Roche recently purchased Foundation Medicine and is working on open-sourcing health information. And just last week, Accenture, Merck, and Amazon announced the launch of a research platform to drive innovation in drug discovery and scientific research. The cloud-based informatics platform enables life sciences researchers and informatics professionals to quickly aggregate, access and analyze research data from multiple applications. Fine, it’s probably just Excel with a slick GUI. Just kidding.
While it may sound like the plot for the latest Mission Impossible film, we assure you it’s real life. Five companies—AstraZeneca, General Electric, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and Roche—are under investigation by the US Department of Justice for their alleged involvement in an Iraqi corruption scandal. The investigation follows a lawsuit filed on behalf of American service members which alleges these companies sold and donated medical supplies to the (then) corrupt head of the Iraqi Ministry of Health, who then sold these supplies to fund terrorist militias. Obviously, the companies are denying their involvement in the unsavory terrorist aspect of this story, and the defendant’s filing in the lawsuit points out that the US government encouraged these sales and donations at the time. This action thriller writes itself…
US stock markets have been roiling over a possible trade war between the world’s largest economies, the US and China. American President Donald Trump proposed nearly $50B in tariffs on Chinese goods, leading Chinese leaders to propose some of their own, but one product they’re not interested in taxing is foreign cancer drugs. China does have the world’s largest population of cancer patients after all. Drugmakers like Roche, Novartis and AZ should be pretty happy with the zero-tariff arrangement, while Chinese leadership hopes the move will push local pharma to improve their technological capabilities. Why can’t we go back to the good ol’ days when both the Chinese and Americans could ask “War, HUH, yeah, what is it good for?”
This week Roche announced it was purchasing mySugr, an Austrian digital health company. The mySugr app is reportedly being used by more than 1M people to manage their diabetes. The app blends the tracking of blood sugar (e.g. the Diabetes Monster) with educational materials and even offers access to live coaching from trained Certified Diabetes Educators. Roche and mySugr have been partners since 2014 and have integrated Roche’s Bluetooth-enabled Accu-Chek (they obviously can’t spel) Connect meter to the other devices mySugr’s app uses to sync user data. Looking deeper, Roche was also an investor in mySugr. See, there is money to be made in the app world and this is another reminder that large pharma continues to invest in digital patient-centric approaches to therapy development.
Maybe you should talk to your doctor to see if a HealthyDose™ of biosimilars is right for you. Side effects include: euphoria caused by an acute awareness of feeling yourself getting smarter, accusations of being a know-it-all by your colleagues, and more euphoria due to objectively knowing you are in fact smarter than your colleagues.
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