In a move that seems to have been purposely done on the quiet, OptumHealth, the health-services consulting arm of UnitedHealth Group, has sold a handful of its business units focused on health economics and clinical research to Mapi Group, a French company with US offices in Yardley, PA. The assets include teams dedicated to North American and European regulatory consulting, late-phase Contract Research Organization (CRO) and European health economics and outcomes research (HEOR). James Karis, Mapi’s CEO, says that the acquisitions will nearly double Mapi’s staff to 1,000, operating in multiple European countries, North America and multiple country-specific locales. “With this acquisition, we are also the largest independent company exclusively dedicated to health research and commercialization services,” he says. From Optum’s perspective, though, the action is relatively small; Optum has a global staff of 80,000, working mostly for healthcare providers and payers.
In an interview with Pharmaceutical Commerce, Karis notes that Mapi is positioning itself in one of the critical areas of pharma development: the generation of HEOR data and real-world evidence (RWE) that is being demanded by payers to justify drug costs and formulary placements. The company has a long history in formalizing methodologies around patient-reported outcomes (PRO), and sponsors a nonprofit, the Mapi Research Trust, that harmonizes PRO processes across languages and cultures. “To get meaningful data from PRO for multiple-country drug approvals, there is a need to harmonize PRO data so that the same terminologies mean the same things in different languages and cultures,” he notes.
Beyond HEOR and PRO, Mapi will be providing extensive services in pharmacovigilance, post-approval studies, risk evaluation and mitigation, and late-stage regulatory-approval documentation. Karis also notes that the company has developed an expertise in rare-disease therapy development, including patient recruitment.
Where the Optum sell-off leaves its own consulting services for life sciences clients remains to be seen. In early 2013, the company announced an initiative, Optum Labs, to work with, among others, the Mayo Clinic to perform HEOR studies.