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In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, there’s one issue that unites hospitals around the globe: health worker burnout. As part of its strategy to help its existing healthcare customers—and woo new ones—Amazon’s cloud division has selected 23 healthtech startups from a pool of 500 applications to participate in its latest healthcare accelerator program focused on workforce issues. “A lot of healthcare organizations—and this is true around the world—are facing financial pressures,” Rowland Illing, chief medical officer and director of international public sector health at Amazon Web Services tells Forbes. “There’s a lot of strain on the system.” As a result, he says, they’re looking to train and retain existing workers, as well as develop new tools to help ease the burden.
Illing says the accelerator is focused on startups that have existing products and are generating revenue, so their main hurdle is how to scale. Selected companies include Momo Medical, Kare and Grapefruit Health (see the full list here). The majority are U.S.- or U.K.-based, which Illing said were the “two most mature markets” for cloud technology. “But we’re scratching the surface in cloud use in healthcare,” he says. “It’s really early.”
Amazon Web Services had around 39% market share in the global public cloud market in 2021, according to Gartner, while Microsoft Azure had around 21% and Google Cloud was at 7%. AWS has “thousands” of healthcare and life sciences cloud customers but would not disclose them as a percentage of its total cloud customers.
Each startup will get $25,000 in Amazon Web Services computing credits as part of the month-long program. The cloud offers “virtually unlimited access to computing power, analytics, tools, database capabilities and networking around the world,” says Illing. The startups will also get access to mentors, including the American Hospital Association, U.K.’s National Health Service, Humana and Philips, among others.
VCs Still See Opportunity In Medicaid Even As Healthcare Investments Contract
Before the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank rocked the venture capital world, startup funding was already receding from the record highs of 2021—and healthcare was no exception. As consumers and employers tighten their belts, there’s one area of healthcare that tends to grow during market downturns: Medicaid—the government-funded health insurance program for more than 92 million low-income Americans. “It’s a countercyclical bet where there is growth in that segment when there isn’t in other parts of the healthcare value chain,” says Meera Mani, a partner at Town Hall Ventures.
Read more here.
Deals Of The Week
Clinical Trial Tech: Inato, a startup that connects pharmaceutical companies with community-based clinical trial sites has raised $20 million in Series A extension funding in its bid to help expand access to and improve the diversity of clinical trial participants.
Cell Therapy: Japan’s Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency approved Aurion Biotech’s Vyznova, an off-the-shelf regenerative cell therapy for the eye disorder bullous keratopathy. The company will begin phase 1 trials in the U.S. later this year.
Cancer Progress: GSK announced positive interim results of its phase III trials of Jemperli in conjunction with current standard-of-care for endometrial cancer. The results so far show significant reduction in disease progression and survival compared to standard of care alone.
Narcan OTC: The FDA has approved an over-the-counter formulation of a Narcan nasal spray for the treatment of opioid overdoses, the first such approval it’s made.
Small Molecule Immunotherapy: Covant Therapeutics, a subsidiary of Roivant Sciences, announced anexclusive collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim for the development of targets against ADAR1 for certain cancers. Covant will receive an upfront payment of $10 million and will be eligible for up to $471 million in milestone payments plus royalties.
Pancreatic Cancer Breakthrough: Discovery Suggests Possible Way To Treat Deadly Disease—And A Drug Already Exists To Do It
Researchers have uncovered an unusual way some cancer cells make nutrients they need to grow, a discovery that could hold the key to starving one of America’s deadliest cancers with a drug we already possess and raising hopes for a powerful new treatment against a disease that is often caught late and has one of the lowest survival rates of any cancer.
Read more here.
Other Healthcare News
Walgreens Boots Alliance quarterly profits fell more than 20% to $703 million with the drugstore chain blaming “lower COVID-19 vaccine and testing volumes.”
CVS Health completed its $8 billion acquisition of Signify Health on Wednesday, as it pushes into in-home medical care.
Oscar Health has tapped former Aetna executive Mark Bertolini as its new CEO—the health insurance company, founded in 2012, has grown to 1.1 million members, thanks to Obamacare plans, but has yet to turn a profit.
A bill moving through the Idaho state legislature would criminalize transporting minors to get an abortion without their parents’ consent—if it passes the state senate, Idaho could become the first state to restrict interstate travel for abortion.
Tanzania announced its first-ever outbreak of Marburg virus disease in late March. There’s no approved vaccine or treatment for the Ebola-like disease, which also has been spreading in Equatorial Guinea.
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