The COVID-19 pandemic emphasized the need for quicker clinical trial enrollment and more decentralized studies to assuage safety concerns. Those long-lasting impacts have given investors the confidence to funnel $220 million into Reify Health.
The series C is more than seven times the size of Reify's $30 million series B, raised almost exactly one year ago. The massive investment gives Boston-based Reify a $2.2 billion valuation, which is more than double the valuation of hybrid trial company Science 37 through its planned special purpose acquisition merger.
Clinical trial software and research organizations can be the limiting factor when it comes to speeding up recruitment and enrollment, so Reify felt a responsibility to scale up its products with another round of financing, said CEO Ralph Passarella in an interview with Fierce Biotech.
Reify's haul comes amid a flurry of cash infusions for siteless trial companies and other CROs looking to speed up trial recruitment. Aside from Science 37, other startups have secured funding in recent months, and long-time player Parexel hit the exit ramp in a $8.5 billion deal last month. Perhaps one chilling sign was WCG Clinical postponing its $720 million IPO last week.
“That feeling you had of waiting on treatments and vaccines to be approved or emergency use authorization in place, that’s a feeling that patients all over the world have waiting on trials that we’re helping, with or without the pandemic," Passarella said.
The pandemic "pulled forward what feels like years of innovation" in which sponsors are more inclined to oversee research in distributed places, Passarella said. For its part, Novartis set up a COVID SWAT team to handle its response to the pandemic and went all in on the virtual clinic.
Reify will use the proceeds to focus on this ramping up of decentralized research through its Care Access platform, the CEO said.
Care Access is available in the U.S. today, so the company will focus on making it a global product. This will present challenges and opportunities, Passarella said, given each region or country has a different approach to clinical trials. So, Reify will have to learn how clinical research fits within local healthcare systems, he said.
Fresh funds will also go toward Reify's StudyTeam platform, which focuses on patient recruitment and enrollment. That tool is used by Amgen, AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly and other biopharmas across 4,000 research sites in 65 countries. China and Russia are the next two largest clinical research markets in which StudyTeam will be used, starting next year, Passarella said. With an already global presence, that platform will benefit from the new financing by receiving enhanced capabilities beyond recruiting and enrolling patients so that it's an end-to-end resource, the CEO said.
The goal is to ramp up trials by figuring out where specific patients are for certain indications, rather than picking sites and waiting for patients to come. Passarella gave the example of shrinking the enrollment window from 18 months to six months. This is being done across COVID-19 treatments, Alzheimer's, Crohn's, oncology and other indications, he added.
"As we look farther out, there is, in an exciting way, a ton of work to do to get to the point where it’s no longer just the highest priority trials in a sponsor’s portfolio that are asking the question, “Where are patients? How do we bring research to these people? But every single trial is working that way. That is going to take a long time," Passarella said.
Coatue Management led the series C alongside participation from ICONIQ Capital and Adams Street Partners. Existing backers Sierra Ventures and Battery Ventures also took part in the round.