New Venture Fund to Invest in Health Information
Merck & Co. is expected today to announce the creation of a new $100 million ehealth venture fund, the Wall Street Journal reports. Merck-Medco already "has an extremely successful Internet presence," as the company's Web site was among the 20 biggest retailers on the Internet, the Journal reports. The fund, Merck Capital Ventures, will be led by Merck-Medco Chair Per Lofberg and will invest in information technology companies to "speed communications between doctors, drug companies and patients." Lofberg, who has overseen Merck-Medco's growth for the last seven years, will resign from his current position to manage the fund, effective today. He said he expects the venture fund's investments to average between $5 million and $7 million each and plans to use his "connections" to "mine" for promising start-up companies.
Lofberg views the following ventures as "most intriguing": companies that utilize the Internet to pick physicians and patients for clinical trials; technologies that will allow drug companies to give physicians product information; and "digital assistants" that will facilitate electronic prescription services. The fund will operate out of Montvale, N.J., to "stay in close contact" with Merck and so that "companies can pitch their services to the right people within Merck." Lofberg said, "We have the money to invest, but on top of that we are offering companies the chance to do business with Merck or Merck-Medco" (Harris/Carrns, Wall Street Journal, 11/28).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.