Clover Health launches drug development subsidiary

Clover Health
Clover Health has launched a new drug development subsidiary. (Clover Health)

Startup Medicare Advantage (MA) insurer Clover Health has launched a new drug development subsidiary called Clover Therapeutics. 

The new arm launched alongside its first partnership, a research collaboration with Roche subsidiary Genentech that will focus on the genetic factors that can put people at risk for developing ocular diseases, Clover announced

“Clover Therapeutics was created to address the significant unmet needs in chronic progressive diseases in the Medicare population,” Cheng Zhang, head of the subsidiary, said.  

“By partnering with our members to study the clinical and genetic drivers of ocular diseases, combined with Genentech’s pioneering history of drug discovery and development in this area, we hope to improve the quality of life for seniors living with these conditions,” Zhang added. 

RELATED: Industry Voices—Why MA star ratings should account for the social determinants 

A tech-focused MA startup, Clover Health garnered interest from some big-name backers, including Alphabet, the parent company of Google. It was valued at more than $1.2 billion in 2017, earning $425 million in total funding by that year. 

However, it’s struggled financially. The company lost $22 million in 2017, which was an improvement over $35 million in losses in 2016.  

Despite these financial challenges, Clover has forged ahead with expansion. It grew into six more MA markets last year and launched its first international partnership to offer its artificial intelligence platform in Taiwan. 

Earlier this year, Clover also announced that it would cut 140 jobs, about a quarter of its workforce, to grow its healthcare expertise. 

RELATED: Verma calls on insurers to use APIs. Some answer more enthusiastically than others 

In the announcement, Clover said launching Clover Therapeutics was a natural extension of its mission in managing care for seniors through MA. Focusing the research subsidiary first on ocular health was a strategic move, because many seniors need care in this area. 

Clover also has a diverse membership, which will allow the research team to track genetic factors from a variety of people with different backgrounds. Minorities are often underrepresented in health research.