Pharmaceutical startup NowRx today announced it has closed a $20 million round raised through crowdfunding platform SeedInvest. NowRx, which claims the round is the largest in SeedInvest’s history, says it will use the funds to expand into new U.S. markets (including Arizona) and bolster its pharmacy technology.
The global e-pharmacy market could be worth $107.53 billion by 2025, according to Zion Market Research, and the pandemic will no doubt accelerate its growth. Contactless shipments promise to limit exposure to the coronavirus while saving time otherwise spent standing in line.
NowRx’s delivery platform — QuickFill — leverages last-mile logistics algorithms that optimize speed and the number of stops per route. The startup operates 5,000-square-foot micro-fulfillment centers in cities like Burlingame, California, where automation technologies — including robots — sort, count, bottle, and label orders “at the same or better” margins as large pharmacy chains. A typical NowRx pharmacist can process more than 2,000 prescriptions a day with a dispensing error rate of about 0.00012, NowRx CEO Cary Brees claims.
Patients in the California cities of Mountain View, Irvine, San Jose, and Burlingame can text a picture of an existing prescription label to the company’s hotline or tell their doctor to send new prescriptions to NowRx. When NowRx receives an order, its customer service representatives text or call to schedule a delivery with a HIPAA-certified driver. Alternatively, patients can use a mobile app to schedule and track deliveries, which arrive the same day if they’re ordered before 5 p.m.
NowRx is electronically connected to insurance providers and offers text, calls, and video chats with pharmacists. Once it processes prescriptions in its system, it checks for — and applies — any manufacturer coupons that might be available and automatically handles refills.
The startup is hardly the only virtual pharmacy making door-to-door deliveries. Amazon’s Pillpack, which is licensed in 49 states, charges customers $20 a month for its medication fulfillment service. Nurx offers birth control and HIV prevention medication via mail. In New York City and New Jersey, Capsule delivers prescriptions within two hours. And Walgreens and CVS offer delivery through partners like Postmates.
But NowRx — which makes money by buying pills in bulk and selling them at retail — says it’s seeing growth despite the competition. In the last year, the company’s customer base grew by 84% and revenues increased by 78%. Since NowRx’s first delivery in 2016, it has delivered over 200,000 prescriptions to more than 28,000 customers, and it’s now used by over 4,500 physicians.
NowRx’s $20 million crowdfunding raise follows the close of a $3 million debt round led by Decathlon Capital Partners and brings the startup’s total raised to $30 million.