UnitedHealth buys PatientsLikeMe, the startup forced by Trump administration to find a buyer – Business Journal

Written by Alex Wittenberg

UnitedHealth Group Inc. has acquired PatientsLikeMe, a health-technology startup forced by the Trump administration to seek a buyer because its majority owner is Chinese, CNBC reports.

PatientsLikeMe, founded in 2004, provides a social network on which patients can connect to people with similar health conditions.

According to an email sent to customers, the Cambridge, Mass.-based startup was folded into UnitedHealth’s research and development group last Wednesday.

Terms of the acquisition have not been disclosed. In a statement to CNBC, UnitedHealth, the nation’s largest health insurer, said it looked forward “to collaborating on patient-first research and building upon the supportive communities patients have come to rely on.”

In 2017, PatientsLikeMe raised $100 million and sold a majority stake in the business to Shenzhen, China-based iCarbonX, which was founded by genomic scientist Jun Wang. The deal triggered scrutiny from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which investigates mergers that could result in control of an American business by a foreign entity.

Last April, CNBC reported PatientsLikeMe was being forced by CFIUS to find a buyer, an example of the Trump administration’s efforts to curb Chinese investment in American companies. Chinese direct investment in the U.S. has fallen 90 percent in two years, from $46 billion in 2016 to $4.8 billion in 2018, according to data from research firm Rhodium Group.

The news of UnitedHealth’s purchase comes less than a week after a Wall Street Journal report said the insurance giant would pay $3.2 billion to acquire health care payments processor Equian. Just days earlier, UnitedHealth closed its $4.3 billion acquisition of the physician group of DaVita Inc.

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