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sell, and its prices reflect that. PKU patients need insurance reimbursements to help cover the costs of the products, which insurance companies see as “durable medical equipment,” says Paolella. Cambrooke helps provide direct billing services to insurance companies so its customers don’t have to navigate the insurance reimbursement process themselves.
The company has also developed software services to help PKU patients stay on top of their treatment in between periodical doctor visits. “A lot of what is required is understanding what goes into that therapy, tracking quantities of protein and amino acids, the way a diabetic would track glucose,” he says.
Cambrooke has a Web service called Dietwell that helps patients track their protein and amino acid intake, blood levels, and the like, and share the information with clinicians. Dietwell is available for the iPhone now and will soon be for Android devices.
The roughly 12-year-old company grew while staying lean (the Paolellas say they didn’t take a salary for the first few years), and took in its first outside funding this year, from the Stamford, CT-based private equity firm Galen Partners. The founders didn’t reveal in an interview how big that deal was, but an SEC filing from last March shows Cambrooke took in $10 million in equity-based funding.
Cambrooke’s potential customer pool is small, with about 20,000 patients in the U.S. suffering from each of the metabolic disorders it’s making its products for. About 60,000 patients worldwide have PKU. But David Paolella says he sees a potential for growth and improvement in care as more of the U.S. and other countries expand the range of disorders they test infants for at birth.
“If the patients are detected at birth, they can actually live a very healthy and fulfilling life,” he says. “We can treat this and have a very good outcome. In the future we believe that clinical nutrition will play an increasing role in medicine generally.”