The Pharmacy Disruptor
Who is the pharmacy disruptor?
In this blog post, we’ll take a look at who is the most promising pharmacy disruptor to date.
Every industry has its own disruptors, in the technology sector you’ve got Facebook, Google, and YouTube leading the way.
Pharmacy is an old industry long dominated by brick and mortar stores. They generate their revenue from dispensing fees, rebates, and markups.
But even chain pharmacies have to innovate in order to catch up with the times. You might have gotten a flu shot from a pharmacist this year, among other services traditionally not done by a pharmacist.
Older adults benefit from medication therapy management services offered by pharmacists throughout the country.
The roles of a pharmacist and scope of practice is constantly evolving and expanding.
These novice services provide a fertile ground for innovation and disruptors in pharmacy to come in and change the ways things are done traditionally.
Turns out there’s already a post by the digital apothecary laying a good list of pharmacy startups in 2019 here.
I’d still like to discuss some of my favorites or the most influential pharmacy disruptor.
Amazon purchased for $753 million in September of 2018 and it helped Amazon won the Dive 2018 Disruptor Award.
In fact, PillPack is what inspired me to write this blog post. PillPack is founded by a pharmacist named T.J. Parker and his partner Elliot Cohen.
PillPack operates as a mail-order pharmacy, delivering personalized blister packed medications according to administering times and frequency.
This service is ideal for the elderly or those taking multiple medications.
PillPack packages medications into easy to use tearable daily packages.
And it is a major pharmacy disruptor.
GoodRx was founded by Doug Hirsch (CEO) and Trevor Bezdek (co-CEO), Scott Marlette stemming from their frustration with the unavailability of drug prices from pharmacies for comparison shopping.
Through GoodRx, you can compare drug prices from over 70,000 pharmacies in the US, print free coupons, and save up to 80% on your medication. You can also save a copy of the coupon on your phone and show it to partner pharmacies.
Here’s a summary of what GoodRx offers to its customer base.
- GoodRx partners with pharmacy chains and drug companies and pharmacy benefits managers such as Express Scripts CVS, Target, Walgreen, Kroger, Walmart and Caremark to offer real-time pricing at 70,000 locations nationwide.
- The company ranks No. 6 on the 2019 CNBC Disruptor 50 list.
- It says consumers can save up to 80% with its free GoodRx Pharmacy Discount Cards, as well as through coupons on its site.
- GoodRx claims that since it launched in 2011, it has helped Americans save $10 billion on prescriptions.
Another pharmacy disruptor is called Capsule. Capsule raised $200 million to expand beyond New York City according to Bloomberg.
With Capsule, your prescription can be filled right from the doctor’s office. Just tell your doctor that your pharmacy is Capsule and wait for a text with a checkout link.
From there, you can place your order and schedule same-day delivery.
You can choose to go home right after your checkup and then wait for your prescription to be delivered right at your doorstep.
Capsule also offer other services. You have the option to transfer a refill from your old pharmacy, have capsule take care of your refills, and ask questions related to your prescription.
Another notable pharmacy disruptor is TruePill.
According to Forbes, the pharmacy industry is worth $400 billion. TruePill is another startup that’s wanting to have a piece of the pie.
Forbes and TruPill’s investors are betting on the rise in telemedicine and are hoping that TruePill will be the next billion-dollar startup.
Umar Afridi, a pharmacist co-founder, and CEO of Truepill and his partner founded the company back in 2016.
They are taking advantage of automation and work behind the scenes to deliver medications via direct-to-consumer medicines and prescriptions. In 2019, they’re expecting their profit to surge to $100 million.
You can think of TruePill as a pharmacy distribution and fulfillment center, taking advantage of technology and automation processing orders for other third parties.
Truepill was founded from Afridi’s goal: ” to ease customers’ frustrations with waiting in line to pick up medications and to cut back the phone calls and faxes required for pharmacists to do their job.”
Another pharmacy disruptor is Blink Pharmacy.
Blink Health allows you to buy your prescription medications at a more affordable price. They guarantee the lowest drug prices on all generic medications.
You have the option to pick up your prescription medication at a local pharmacy near you. Just pay online and your order will be ready for pick up.
Blink Health promises up to an average of 70% cost saving per prescription filled.
This is one of the startup drug companies dedicated to providing patients with medication cost savings. Unlike other pharmacies offering the same service, Blink Health does not require membership fees or coupons.
DeliverCareRx takes medication delivery to another level. Not only does the pharmacy offer free home delivery for more than three prescriptions per month but it also synchronizes your prescription needs. This means your prescriptions are delivered to your door at the exact time that you need to replenish your supply.
This makes prescription acquisition convenient and timely. You never have to miss a refill for any reason. This also saves you money from gas!
DeliverCareRx also offers free prescription management. No need to go to the doctor’s office and visit your insurance provider because they will handle the prescriptions and paperwork for you.
ZappRx offers patients a quick and easy way to process specialty drug orders through the ZappRx digital platform. You can order specialty medications online quickly and easily.
Considering that specialty prescribing takes significant processing time, a more efficient process can make a huge difference.
Apart from streamlining the process of specialty medication ordering, ZappRx also helps with the communication between providers.
NowRx delivers your prescription medication the same day you place your order.
Since you only need to use an app to place an order, you can skip the long lines and have your prescription filled without leaving your home.
You can send your prescription to them or have your doctor send it directly to the pharmacy. After your doctor’s visit, you can go straight home instead of going to the pharmacy.
Upon fulfillment, you will receive a notification. Your credit card on file will be charged automatically.
You also have an option to video chat with your pharmacist for consultation and for whatever questions you might have.
Run by Specialty Medical Drugstore, a full-service pharmacy provider based in Greater Cincinnati, GoGoMeds offers low-cost prescription medications and other specialty pharmacy services.
You can have your prescription filled without the need to leave your home. Just send your prescription via mail or have your doctor fax it directly to GoGoMeds.
If you want to transfer from one pharmacy to GoGoMeds, just provide the name and phone number of the pharmacy when you process your order. Upon fulfillment, your prescriptions can be shipped to you directly or delivered according to your specific instructions.
Alto Pharmacy fills your prescription and delivers your meds for free. The pharmacy stocks all common medication and specialty drugs and sells them to you at the best price. With the same copay and free delivery, you’re sure to save time and money on gas.
With the acquisition of Round Health, Alto Pharmacy helps ensure patients are adhering to their prescriptions. The reminder app not only takes note of your schedule for taking your medication but also the patterns and rhythms of your life. This allows the app to remind you of your medication more effectively.
You also have the option to have your prescription refilled at a specific schedule and time.
Fast and reliable medication dispensing is what NimbleRx is all about. They offer fast delivered pharmacy services that ensure patients get their prescriptions on time.
Delivery is always free, and you get to choose when and where you want to receive your prescription. Just have your doctor send your prescription directly to the pharmacy and they will take care of the rest.
If you need to manage your refills, just use the Nimble Pharmacy app. It’s easy to manage and will speed up the process.
MedAvail has created medication pick up points, self-serve pharmacy kiosks where patients can pick up their prescriptions and over-the-counter medications.
The MedCenter, as the kiosk is called, is remotely controlled by a pharmacist who interacts with clients through audio and video network connection. Think of it as an ATM that dispenses medication on the spot instead of money.
You can choose from over 500 medications through this 24-hour, on-the-spot pharmacy.
The Pharmacist is Out
It’s not all good news in the pharmacy industry. A Wall Street Journal article highlight one of the reality in pharmacy: pharmacies are closing down or merged with the bigger players.
They have to do so because of the ultra-competitive nature of the industry.
If you walk into a Target today you will find a CVS Pharmacy inside of target with the $1.9 billion mergers back in 2015.
The squeeze on profits and margins also prompted Walmart to lay off approximately 3% of their pharmacy staff, most of them senior staff.
The WSJ article cited hundreds of regional grocery stores closing due to their declining profits. This is also true in small towns across America where independent pharmacies are facing the same problems.
In some rural communities, patients have to travel long distances to get to the closest pharmacy to fill their medications.
It is, therefore, an absolutely the right time for the pharmacy disruptor to innovate and challenge the status quo and help patients feeling better sooner without all the hassles.