Verana Health lands J&J, Novo backing in $150M round to fund real-world database for drug, device development

Money piles cash
The Verana Health clinical database is used by life sciences companies for drug development and clinical trial recruitment and by healthcare providers to select the most effective treatment options for each patient. (Pixabay)

With a new CEO at the helm, the recent launch of an artificial-intelligence-powered data analytics engine and, now, the close of its largest funding round to date, Verana Health appears ready to make good on its promises to help revolutionize both drug development and healthcare delivery.

Verana is building a vast database of real-world clinical evidence—culled from medical specialty organizations like the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Academy of Neurology and the American Urological Association—that can be mined by life sciences companies and healthcare providers for drug and device development, clinical trial recruitment and treatment planning. The platform includes information gathered from the electronic health record systems of more than 20,000 healthcare providers.

Meanwhile, the VeraQ population health analytics tool, which debuted in October, uses AI to automatically sift through those data, helping drug and device developers with their research and speeding up clinical trial recruitment.

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Verana’s newly closed series E funding brought in $150 million to expand the company’s technology. The round was co-led by Johnson & Johnson Innovation and Novo Nordisk’s Novo Growth investment arm and included participation from new and existing investors including GV, the Merck Global Health Innovation Fund, Casdin Capital, Brook Byers, THVC and Breyer Capital.

In a further display of their support, both Johnson & Johnson Innovation and Novo Growth are sending representatives to join Verana’s board of directors, with the latter’s slot taken by Jeffrey Low, M.D., a principal at the firm.

The series E easily dwarfs Verana’s past funding rounds and more than doubles its lifetime fundraising total. Its last two hauls were both led by GV, the Alphabet venture capital arm formerly known as Google Ventures, and brought in a combined $130 million between 2018 and 2020.

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The newest addition to its pocketbook will help Verana expand the reach of its real-world evidence network to assist biopharmaceutical researchers at every stage of the drug development process. It’ll also add to its physician-focused features and build out the data network itself via new partnerships with medical societies and other healthcare data collectors.

“The healthcare industry needs new ways of creating high-quality data sets from disorganized information dispersed throughout a myriad of electronic health record systems that often lack interoperability and standardization,” said David Parke, M.D., CEO of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Verana’s executive chairman.

“Verana Health is solving this critical need by delivering and analyzing proprietary, curated data sets … from both structured and unstructured data that maintain truth to original clinical context.”