Getting specialty medications can be a big hassle. Dozens of pages of forms are required. Patients rely on call centers to find out the status of their prescriptions, and can go days wondering exactly when the next refill is coming. What if you could handle it all, instead, with just a few clicks on a smartphone app?
That’s the kind of thing ZappRx, a recently-formed startup out of Cambridge, MA, is trying to do.
ZappRx is announcing today that it’s raised $1 million in seed funding in a round led by Atlas Venture. SR One, the venture arm of GlaxoSmithKline, also provided some of the cash, representing the firm’s first investment in healthcare IT. Investors Terry Meguid, David Hamamoto, Sean Trigony, and physicist James Glimm also took part.
Combined with the earlier seed dollars it raised in September, ZappRx has now hauled in a total of about $2.2 million. It’ll use the cash to continue to develop its product—a smartphone app and system of portals that would automate the process of prescribing specialty medications—and add a few more people to its six-person staff. That’s in preparation for a critical time for ZappRx. Within the next few months, it said it plans to announce partnerships with some specialty pharmacy companies and drug manufacturers, and then begin implementing its system for the first time.
“We’re hard at work getting our [customers] to commit and then launch,” says founder and CEO Zoe Barry.
The idea for ZappRx came to Barry a few years ago when she was waiting online at a big retail pharmacy and saw what she calls “an absolute disaster of a prescription checkout.” A University of Michigan college student ahead of her had forgotten her meds, and because of various inefficiencies in the system, she was forced to pay substantially more for the drugs than she should have.
Barry offered to pay the extra cash if she could take the student out for coffee and talk. She obliged, and the discussion led to a survey Barry conducted among other Michigan college students, through which she saw how badly they wanted better access to their health information on their mobile phones. Barry then formed ZappRx in January 2012 with the idea of combining aspects of e-prescribing medications and mobile payments over one platform and application. She raised $160,000 from friends and family to pursue it, and then got the attention of Atlas, which led the initial $1 million seed round September.
Since then, however, the business concept has changed. Barry was initially looking to … Next Page »