Bowing under pressure from Trump administration, PatientsLikeMe finds a buyer

June 26, 2019
Written by Folake Dosu

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The trade war between the U.S. and China has reached virtually every sector of the economy and healthcare technology is no exception.

Bowing under pressure from the Trump administration due to having a Chinese majority owner, patient networking platform PatientsLikeMe found a buyer. The startup confirmed in an email to customers obtained by CNBC this week that it has found a new home in UnitedHealth Group.

“As always, we are committed to using your data for good, protecting your data, and advancing our understanding of diseases through your partnership. There are no changes to the PatientsLikeMe name or your PatientsLikeMe membership. Our community and site remain a place where you can connect, track, and share with others as you’ve always done.”

“As always, we are committed to using your data for good, protecting your data, and advancing our understanding of diseases through your partnership,” the email, which was sent last Wednesday, said. “There are no changes to the PatientsLikeMe name or your PatientsLikeMe membership. Our community and site remain a place where you can connect, track, and share with others as you’ve always done.”

The outlet notes that Chinese investments in tech startups is drying up in response to heightened U.S. government scrutiny. Direct investment in the U.S. from Chinese firms has tanked 90% in two years, from $46 billion in 2016 to $4.8 billion in 2018, with more losses coming, according to data from research firm Rhodium Group.

After PatientsLikeMe raised $100 million and sold a majority stake to Shenzhen-based iCarbonX in 2017, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) took notice, viewing the investment as a potential risk to national security and trade secrets. Genomic scientist Jun Wang founded the firm, which is backed by Chinese conglomerate Tencent. CFIUS forced the divestiture late last year, according to sources who spoke to CNBC, which meant a sale was inevitable.

“UnitedHealth Group and PatientsLikeMe are committed to using technology and innovation to help people live healthier lives and help make the health system work better for everyone. We look forward to collaborating on patient-first research and building upon the supportive communities patients have come to rely on,” said UnitedHealth in a statement.

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