Google’s Entry Shifts the Personalized Medicine Tipping Point to The Edge - Diaceutics

Google’s Entry Shifts the Personalized Medicine Tipping Point to The Edge

September 23rd, 2013

Peter Keeling

Peter Keeling of Diaceutics comments on Google’s announcement that it will create Calico, a new type of company focused on disease management, and highlights how it is a game changer in the personalized medicine space.

At an offsite meeting of Diaceutics management team some two years ago, we defined a small number of events which would signal a tectonic shift towards a predominantly personalized model for the pharmaceutical and diagnostic industries. Since that time two of the events have already occurred: the $1000 genome and the realization of accelerated FDA approvals for biomarker-targeted therapies. A third was revealed over the past few days [2013] and it’s called Calico. See news here –,0,6335069.story.

Calico is Google’s second venture into health care (remember their first, the failed Google Health EHR initiative?) and this time it is to build a new type of company focused on disease management. Details are scant about how Calico will go about its business, but we should not be waylaid by the absence of details at this stage since what is more important is to focus on the four huge competitive advantages Google collectively have over most other pharmaceutical incumbents:

  1. They have Art Levinson, formerly CEO of Genentech and a personalized medicine veteran, to lead the business. Unlike most pharma CEOs, Art Levinson has extensively leveraged the power of targeted therapy and diagnostic integration to transform patient pathways.
  2. As we discussed previously in What Minerva Knows That Pharma Doesnt Know Yet, Google have the competitive power and business model savvy to deliver a systems-integrated approach to disease management and only this integration approach will deliver the much promised personalized medicine revolution.
  3. Thirdly, they have the deep pockets required to enter the high barrier pharmaceutical world. Whilst Art Levinson and Google may decide to not buy AstraZeneca as we mooted here (, we can rest assured that they will not tread water for the eight to ten years it takes to develop novel therapies. It is noted that Google Ventures are already significant stakeholders in Foundation Medicine.
  4. Finally, Google’s business is built around direct to consumer (read patient) interaction and all of us close to personalized medicine recognize that it is the patient who will ultimately drive the transformation to control their own personal health. In short, Google is already patient (not physician) centric.

For these reasons, Calico is a personalized medicine game changer.


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