Roche has announced it aquiring healthcare tech and services company Flatiron Health to accelerate the development and delivery of breakthrough cancer medicines.

Under the $1.9 billion deal, Roche will acquire all shares of New York-based Flatiron , following on from an existing equity stake of 12.6%. The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2018.

Flatiron Health, backed by Alphabet, is a market leader in oncology-specific electronic health record (EHR) software, as well as the curation and development of real-world evidence for cancer research.

The company has worked with industry leaders and regulators to develop new approaches for how real-world evidence may be used in regulatory decision making, including the design and validation of novel endpoints.

“This is an important step in our personalised healthcare strategy for Roche," said Daniel O’Day, Roche's CEO, "as we believe that regulatory-grade real-world evidence is a key ingredient to accelerate the development of, and access to, new cancer treatments. Flatiron Health is best positioned to provide the technology and data analytics infrastructure needed not only for Roche, but for oncology research and development efforts across the entire industry.

"A key principle of this is to preserve Flatiron’s autonomy and their ability to continue providing their services to all existing and future partners."

Roche initially invested $175 million in the company in 2016, with the aim of harnessing its underutilised data collected from cancer patients. The Swiss firm hopes to use the data both for R&D and to help in negotiating drug prices with payers based on how well a medicine works.