Sanofi and Google Partner on Digital Health and Real-World Evidence Analysis


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Google and Sanofi are partnering to set up a new virtual Innovation Lab with a focus on data technologies and digital health. The goal is to change how Sanofi develops new drugs. It will have three key objectives: better understand patients and diseases, increase Sanofi’s operational efficiency and improve Sanofi’s patient and customer experience.

“We stand on the forefront of a new age for biology and human health, with the opportunity to transform healthcare through partnerships with pioneering technology and analytics companies,” stated Ameet Nathwani, Sanofi’s chief digital officer, chief medical officer and executive vice president, Medical.

Nathwani added, “Combining Sanofi’s biologic innovations and scientific data with Google’s industry-leading capabilities, from cloud computing to state-of-the-art artificial intelligence, we aspire to give people more control over their health and accelerate the discovery of new therapies.”

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This is just one more example of the biopharma industry’s interest in digital health, computational medicine and advanced artificial intelligence. In May, AstraZeneca announced a long-term collaboration deal with UK-based BenevolentAI. They will focus on using AI and machine learning to discover and develop new drugs for chronic kidney disease (CKD) and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).

In April, Concerto HealthAI signed a deal with Bristol-Myers Squibb, and a few weeks later Concerto inked a similar deal with Pfizer. Concerto focuses on oncology-specific Real-World Data (RWD) and advanced AI for Real-World Evidence (RWE) generation. And in March, Oxford BioMedica entered a two-year research-and-development collaboration with Microsoft Research. They’re working to improve the yield and quality of next-generation gene therapy vectors using AI and machine learning.

Sanofi and Google’s collaboration appears to be more far-reaching, not only using Google’s deep analytics abilities to scour Google’s datasets, but Sanofi IT plans to modernize its infrastructure by moving some of its existing business applications to Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Sanofi hopes to increase its data and analytic capabilities, but also accelerate and improve legacy management, and maximize operational cost efficiency.

No financial details of the arrangement were announced. In 2018, Sanofi reported sales of $38.8 billion. However, trade unions expressed concern that the French company might announce research-and-development cuts at a meeting scheduled for Wednesday.

This isn’t Sanofi’s first collaboration with Alphabet, Google’s parent company. In 2016, Sanofi and Alphabet’s Verily formed a joint venture, Onduo, to develop digital devices for diabetes care. And last month, Verily announced partnerships with four pharma companies, Novartis, Otsuka, Pfizer and Sanofi. The deal is to develop digital, patient-centered clinical research programs using Verily’s Project Baseline’s evidence generation platform and tools.

As with many of these collaborations, they will attempt to generate real-world evidence. Using the Baseline Platform, they will collect, organize and analyze health information culled from electronic health records, sensors and other digital sources.

Jessica Mega, chief medical and scientific officer of Verily, stated, “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.”

Of today’s announcement, Thomas Kurian, chief executive officer of Google Cloud, stated, “Life sciences companies are looking to data-driven, digital innovation to help fuel the creation of accessible healthcare solutions. We look forward to collaborating with Sanofi to help accelerate the cycle of healthcare innovation to populations throughout the world.”

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