Peter Thiel, the billionaire libertarian who quietly backed away in 2020 from his once-ardent support of President Donald Trump, is no stranger to government contracts. His company Palantir has secured dozens of contracts with the feds and now has another big fish on the hook.
Palantir, the Denver-based data and analytics company Thiel co-founded in 2003, entered into an agreement this week with the FDA as the government agency struggles to keep up with a surge of regulatory approval needs due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
As part of a three-year, $44.4 million contract, the FDA will use Palantir’s software to expedite data and analytics services through the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research with the goal of speeding up the review of potential new medicines and products such as hand sanitizers. Bloomberg first reported the existence of the contract.
Hamstrung by Covid-related lockdowns, the FDA in recent months has had to delay numerous approval processes for myriad drugs — mainly due to facility inspection requirements made more difficult by pandemic travel restrictions.
Recent publicized FDA delays have included Bristol Myers Squibb’s CAR-T liso-cel, Spectrum‘s neutropenia candidate Rolontis and daxibotulinumtoxinA, a frown-line injection from Revance. Beyond that, it’s unknown exactly how far behind the agency is on review processes, but the outsourcing of certain review processes to Palantir software could help officials clear out the backlog.
Palantir has long worked closely with the US government, a relationship which has only grown closer since the pandemic began. The company, Bloomberg also reported, has secured over 100 contracts with private companies and government health groups — including software that government officials have said is critical to the Operation Warp Speed mission to inoculate Americans with a COVID-19 vaccine.
Palantir went public on the Nasdaq at the end of September, with an initial direct listing of $10 per stock share — translating to a valuation of $22 billion. The announcement of the FDA contract alone boosted company shares 21% on Tuesday, and $PLTR is currently valued at $28.59 per share.