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January 2, 2020

How Is Money Changing Medicine?—Venture Capital Investment in Oncology

Author Affiliations
  • 1Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 2Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 3Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA Oncol. Published online January 2, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2019.5348

Venture capital investment in new medical technologies has reached all-time highs, with more than $25 billion invested in biopharmaceutical, medical device, and diagnostics startups in 2018.1 However, what exact effect this has had on the clinical practice of oncology and on determining which therapies are available to patients is unclear. From 2010 to 2017, venture capital deal valuation in US biopharma companies increased by 139% to $10.5 billion and that of venture capital deals in US device companies increased by 61% to $5.0 billion.2 Given the role of venture capital in financing medical innovations, oncologists and policy makers should understand the basics of venture capital, including how venture capitalists decide on investments, the potential risk-benefit effect on patients, and the implications for how new therapeutics, diagnostics, and devices enter practice.

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