EQRx lays out expansion vision, announces CVS partnership – Boston Business Journal – Boston Business Journal

EQRx Inc. CEO Melanie Nallicheri outlined ambitious expansion plans for the startup during its first J.P. Morgan Healthcare conference appearance as a public company.
EQRx (Nasdaq: EQRx) is planning to double its number of programs this year, file for regulatory approval for the first time both in the U.S. and abroad and expand through partnerships. On Monday, the Cambridge-based company announced a new memorandum of understanding with Woonsocket, Rhode Island-based CVS Health Corp. (NYSE: CVS) to add to its bevy of partnerships designed to increase access to EQRx products — once they’re approved.
“The goal is to be working with CVS across their pharmacy, PPM and their health plan business. We have a shared goal of creating greater access and lower cost,” Nallicheri told investors and attendees during her presentation. “Given how far CVS reaches into American communities, this is a great opportunity for EQRx to really expand what we’re doing with a partner.”
EQRx’s other partnerships include deals with Blue Shield of California and Geisinger Health System.
In response to a question from the Business Journal, Nallicheri declined to offer commercial terms on those partnerships, vaguely offering that the memorandums of understanding contain “commitments.” The main value-add for EQRx is the promise of access to specific patient populations.
“The way we think about it is, we will get more market share from those partners, because ultimately, they will use some of the important levers they have, and so there will be a larger portion of patients on any of these respective medicines,” Nallicheri said.
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Beyond partnerships with health care organizations, EQRx is also developing drugs via collaborations with Exscientia, AbCellera, Absci, Relay Therapeutics and Evotec. The startup has disclosed only five clinical-stage drugs, although it has other preclinical programs. Its two most advanced programs target certain types of non-small cell lung cancer.
By the end of 2022, Nallicheri said in her presentation, the drug development pipeline will have expanded to more than 20 programs — and Nallicheri expects more than half of them to result in approved drugs.
To that end, the company plans to grow to about 500 employees, an explosion from the mere 20 full-timers it had when it launched two years ago. EQRx has about $1.7 billion in cash on hand.
“We’re expecting that we’re going to succeed more often than not,” Nallicheri said. “We believe that that’s not crazy. It is possible today.”
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