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Verily unveils next-gen trials alliance with Novartis, Pfizer

New data methods and tech will be used to streamline trials


Google’s healthcare spin-off Verily has unveiled a handful of big pharma companies as its first partners in a project to revolutionise clinical trials.

When it was launched by Google back in 2015, Verily was seen as a potential major disruptor of the current healthcare model, but the company has played its cards close to its chest for the past few years.

Now the company is teaming up with Novartis, Otsuka, Pfizer and Sanofi to transform clinical trials - which the industry, regulators, leading research and patient advocates all agree rely on outdated, cumbersome and inefficient systems not build around patient needs.

There’s no question that recent years have seen many other initiatives to introduce digital tech and data initiatives to streamline trials, from incumbents and new entrants, so Verily is far from alone in the field.

Nevertheless, now it has invested deeply in setting up its 'Project Baseline’ and relationships with key healthcare stakeholders, Verily clearly believes it can exploit its expertise in data management to become a leader in this multi-billion dollar field.

The partners say they aim to develop digitally innovative, patient-centered clinical research programmes using Verily’s Project Baseline’s evidence generation platform and tools.

Project Baseline was launched in 2017 with the goal of creating a baseline of clinical and health data which could link real world healthcare with research via user-friendly digital infrastructure.

The goal is to streamline the clinical trial process, and thereby encourage greater participation in research by patients and physicians.

It says the partners will aim to implement a more patient-centric, technology-enabled approach to research, and increase the number and diversity of clinical research participants.

This will also include exploring new approaches to generating real-world evidence using the Baseline Platform to collect, organise and activate health information from electronic health records, sensors and other digital sources.

jessica mega

Jessica Mega

“Evidence generation through research is the backbone of improving health outcomes. We need to be inclusive and encourage diversity in research to truly understand health and disease, and to provide meaningful insights about new medicines, medical devices and digital health solutions,” said Jessica Mega, M.D., chief medical and scientific officer, Verily.

Now Novartis, Otsuka, Pfizer and Sanofi each plan to launch clinical studies using the platform across a range of therapeutic areas, including cardiovascular disease, oncology, mental health, dermatology and diabetes.

Debbie Profit, Ph.D., M.S., vice president, applied innovation and process improvement, Otsuka commented: “The clinical research process is antiquated in many ways. Our collaboration with Verily aims to redefine and redesign this process to make clinical trials more accessible to patients, and clinical research more precise and targeted so we can obtain results and seek approvals sooner, which would put therapies into the hands of physicians and their patients earlier.”

She added that Otsuka’s early adopter status in the project would allow it to leverage real-world data, through sensors, EHR integrations and other tools to corroborate evidence around the treatments and interventions we are studying – and at the same time reduce the burden on clinical trial participants.”

Rod MacKenzie, chief development officer and executive vice president, Pfizer says his company has been pursuing ‘game changing’ new uses of digital tech and data science in the last few years, and says the partnership with Verily will help accelerate that.

One of the most eyecatching initiatives in the field is by another of the new partners, Novartis, which unveiled its Nerve Live digital platform for managing clinical trials earlier this year.

From a digitally-enabled nerve centre on its Basel campus, the company is now able to monitor all its worldwide clinical trials in real time, a first for the industry, helping it to keep trials on track and avoid costly hold-ups.

There is also no doubt that regulators are keen to see the industry update its practices.  Shortly before he stepped down as FDA commissioner earlier this year, Scott Gottlieb expressed his frustration at the industry not moving faster to embrace innovative approaches to clinical trials.

Article by
Andrew McConaghie

22nd May 2019

From: Research



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