HealthMatch raises $7M Series C funding to help expand access and diversify clinical trials
HealthMatch, an Australian startup focusing on matching patients with experimental drugs being studied in clinical trials of new therapies, recently raised $7M in Series C funding. The round was led by Folklore Ventures and joined by existing investor Square Peg Capital (who led their Series B round). HealthMatch will use the funding to increase staffing (following layoffs earlier this year) and to broaden services in the U.S.
There are over 135,000 active clinical trials in the U.S. and a total of almost 430K worldwide according to ClinicalTrials.gov
The company notes that based on survey data, 90% of clinical trial participants stated that one of the reasons they chose to participate is to help patients in the future
Only about 12 percent of drugs entering clinical trials are ultimately approved by the FDA and reach the market, with those that do not reach the market costing between $1B-$2B on average per a CBO study.
On average new therapies take approximately 10 years to reach the market and cost approximately $2.5-$3B to develop.
85% of clinical trial patients reported they felt the kind of care they had during the clinical trial was better than the possible treatment they would have received overall.
HealthMatch was founded by Manuri Gunawardena in 2017 when she was in her final year of studies as a medical student. Having spent that year working in neuro-oncology research she saw firsthand how difficult it was for researchers to locate patients that matched the criteria for certain clinical trials. Manuri saw an opportunity to connect patients to the appropriate clinical trials. In addition, she recognized the potential to increase awareness of other treatment options and connect them to trials or specialists without being limited by geography. Moreover, clinical trials often lack diversity and are plagued by an inability to recruit representative patient samples. This is often because in underserved and underrepresented communities, patients lack access to hospitals and trial centers that are engaged with the appropriate research, increasing the cost of transportation and accessibility for those participants.
The objective of HealthMatch is to provide access to patients from all over with the right kind of clinical trials that will pose a benefit to them and inform and show them that they have choices and resources beyond their location and awareness. HealthMatch achieves that objective by focusing on the fact that they are there to guide the patient and help them match with a previously unknown medication trial that could have them on a journey to alleviating or curing them.
By focusing on the main point that HealthMatch is there to guide and find that medication that will have them on the journey to a possible cure that will hopefully be the right match for them. But not only to provide that access but to make sure that patients know that there are various alternatives that give them a broad choice that shows them better healthcare options are available with the help of HealthMatch.
HealthMatch’s goal is to facilitate matches and options for patients from all over the world to trials not offered in their own geographic region or country that might be appropriate for their disease. The company has increasingly partnered with pharmaceutical companies to help recruit participants for trials on emerging therapies to study and bring new products onto the market. Work like this has become crucial when an estimated 75% of trials are being paused or halted due to lack of enrollment costing the industry billions of dollars.
Through partnerships with pharmaceutical companies like Roche and Abbvie as well as biotechnology companies like Imugene and Earli these companies can now use HealthMatch’s patient information to better design their trials. This includes knowing geographically where they can conduct trials for certain therapies and what types of new treatments are required for patients in need. According to the company, more than 1 million patients have accessed their services and they plan to build on this growth. HealthMatch is a free online service that has an easy-to-understand registration process so all patients have to do is enter the appropriate data to explore which clinical trials might be suited for them.
The Big Picture:
While the clinical trial process is essential to the testing and approval of new drugs the process has been plagued by issues of recruitment and diversity. For example, according to PharmaVOICE, almost half of patients drop out of trials before a study is completed and less than 5% of patients actually participate in clinical research. Using tools like HealthMatch researchers can expand the number of patients available for trials and help expand the development of lifesaving solutions. In addition, with the average distance for trial participants of approximately 50 miles to trial sites, services like this can increase the ability of patients from underserved communities to access and participate in trials. HealthMatch and others are bridging that gap in underserved and overlooked communities providing them access to potentially lifesaving therapies that they may not have otherwise had. Not only does HealthMatch help patients increase their knowledge about their disease, but it also provides them access to new medications and specialists in the field. Such connections have the potential to both extend and improve the quality of life as well as improve outcomes for the population at large.