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A cure for long pharmacy waits

Mountain View startup offers same-day prescription deliveries with its own pharmacy

There's no shortage of start-ups offering quick, same-day delivery for groceries and other goods, so it's no surprise that some Bay Area companies are eying pharmaceutical deliveries as a new growth industry.

A plethora of new smartphone app-based companies operating as both pharmacies and delivery companies have opened up shop in recent years, and have risen in popularity among customers and investors. From the nation-wide company PillPack to local delivery services operating in Bay Area cities, there's a hearty desire to escape the sometimes long lines at big box stores like CVS Pharmacy and Walgreens.

Cary Breese, CEO of the Mountain View-based start-up NowRx, said it's perplexing that in the age of on-demand services like Google Express and Postmates, it's still commonplace to get stuck in a line at a pharmacy for 45 minutes, standing around with a scrap of paper from the doctor's office. What's more, he said, most of the independent pharmacies have been pushed out by Walgreens, CVS Pharmacy and Rite Aid, giving people dwindling options for where they get their medicine.

"If you do a search, there just aren't any mom and pop pharmacies left. There really (are) no choices for consumers," Breese said.

NowRx, which kicked off operations at its location on Old Middlefield Way at the beginning of the year, allows customers to send in prescriptions, make their copay remotely and receive same-day delivery at no extra cost. Express one-hour delivery costs extra -- provided customers live within an hour's drive of the Mountain View location.

Breese said this is only NowRx's first year of business, but the small team has already seen plenty of customers, including senior citizens with mobility issues, busy working professionals, working parents and patients just coming out of the hospital following hip and knee surgeries. As the company grows, he said, the company plans to appeal to the mainstream market, but these patients tend to really benefit from an expedited pharmacy service.

Prescription-delivering start-ups can mostly be divided into two types. One acts primarily as a courier service, picking up prescriptions from existing pharmacies and delivering them to customers. From a regulatory perspective, companies like San Francisco-based TinyRx are a whole lot easier to get off the ground, Breese said. But it does little to alleviate the service bottleneck at existing pharmacies.

On the other hand, companies like NowRx, NimbleRx and ScriptDash -- all Bay Area-based -- are taking it a step further. After jumping through several regulatory hoops with the California Pharmacy Board and the Drug Enforcement Administration, as well as getting approval by a myriad of insurance companies, NowRx was able to build and operate its own pharmacy to go with the delivery and technology services.

"We started on this project full time around June last year. It took a good six months to get through all the regulatory hurdles," Breese said.

The company currently has five employees, including a pharmacist and drivers who deliver prescription orders from Redwood City to San Jose. The limits are mostly bounded by the ability to provide one-hour service, Breese said, and the hope is that venture capital will help fuel future expansion into the South Bay.

Convenience is a big selling point for the companies, but Breese said these kinds of startups can play a bigger role as well. Because it's a pain to wait in line for long periods of time, only to be told the pharmacy is out of stock, he said some patients put off the trip entirely and miss taking their daily medication. With any luck, he said, his startup will prevent that from happening.

"Our long-term goal is to improve patient health," Breese said.

Comments

6 people like this
Posted by Ken M
a resident of Bailey Park
on Apr 20, 2016 at 7:57 pm

I know a guy who got arrested for delivering pharmaceuticals. There are safer ways to make a buck.


Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Bailey Park

on Apr 21, 2016 at 9:46 am

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


1 person likes this
Posted by Cary B
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 21, 2016 at 10:49 am

To @Ken,
NowRx is licensed and in good standing with the CA Board of Pharmacy and the DEA. Prescriptions are safely delivered all over the country, everyday, not just by NowRx but major national chain pharmacies such as Walgreens and CVS. The difference is that NowRx replaces costly neighborhood stores with efficient, centralized dispensing locations, in order to provide same day delivery for FREE. There is no longer a reason to ever stand in line at a pharmacy.


1 person likes this
Posted by Sounds like Amazon Prime for drugs
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Apr 21, 2016 at 1:14 pm

I think this is a good idea and will find a receptive audience. Good luck with it.


Like this comment
Posted by OfficeWorker
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Apr 21, 2016 at 2:40 pm

I hope the delivery guy can tell patients how to use their prescription...and interaction of drugs.


3 people like this
Posted by Easy Peasy
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Apr 21, 2016 at 2:56 pm

If the delivery guy cannot speak about interactions, it could be handled easily by a phone call for those who would need that. From what I see a vast majority do not get a consultation at the pharmacy, so I don't think it would be that hard to address for the minority of patients who would want a consult.


1 person likes this
Posted by Cary B
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 22, 2016 at 9:59 am

@OfficeWorker, @EasyPeasy

NowRx has full time, licensed pharmacists that offer thorough consultations either over the phone or via the videochat feature within the free NowRx app. In this way, the patient/customer can have a pharmacist consultation at a convenient time and place, rather than in front of 20 other people standing in line at the pharmacy counter. The customer has the option to request the consultation or to waive it. Pharmacists are available M-F, 9-5, should any further questions arise regarding medications.

NowRx app also provides daily reminders so you do not forget to take your medication (can be turned off at users option) and provides an automated refill process.


Like this comment
Posted by Mark
a resident of Jackson Park
on Apr 24, 2016 at 6:29 pm

There are over 22000 independent pharmacies and the majority will deliver. Not sure why this guy would say there are not many mom and pops left
That's an outright lie


1 person likes this
Posted by SS
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 25, 2016 at 7:48 am

@Mark

You are right that there are 22000 independent pharmacies, but you are taking the original comment out of context. Take a look at the attached link of google map results for area surrounding Mountain View... Web Link

Not many independents. They've been largely pushed out of densely populated areas.


Like this comment
Posted by Or...
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Apr 25, 2016 at 1:39 pm

With improved access to cannabis, many have been able to eliminate many would be trips to the pharmacy. The prescription drugs I was on had far too many bad long term side effects. I feel much better now that I'm off them, and I'm still symptom free. Again, though, delivery is the only route if you want to get medical cannabis in MV.


Like this comment
Posted by Dale L.
a resident of another community
on Apr 25, 2016 at 5:57 pm

TinyRx is a courier service but that isn't what they tell pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens. They use passive deception to pretend to be caretakers.

The "patients" on their homepage are actually from stock photo sites. Do a quick Google Reverse Image search.

They also say that they don't support controlled substances on their homepage but if you schedule a delivery there is nothing to prevent you from ordering Schedule II drugs and in fact they know to charge you an extra fee to handle them.

I signed up and inputted my regular pharmacy and they tried to push some no-name pharmacy on me that I had never heard of.

These TinyRx people are pathologically dishonest.


1 person likes this
Posted by Cary B
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 25, 2016 at 9:24 pm

@ Dale L

Unlike others that are just courier services, NowRx is a full service pharmacy, one that offers free same day delivery and and easy to use app. NowRx does not attempt to confuse any customers, rather it is clearly communicated that to utilize the benefits of NowRx customers need to utilize NowRx in place of their regular pharmacy. For any prescriptions at existing pharmacies, NowRx does all the transfer for the customer, the customer only needs to let NowRx know which pharmacy has the existing prescription, along with name and birth date, and from that point forward all prescriptions will be filled from NowRx pharmacy and delivered the same day for free.

NowRx is licensed by the DEA to safely handle Schedule II narcotics, in addition to all other prescription drugs and some over the counter medications.


2 people like this
Posted by Enough
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Apr 26, 2016 at 7:44 am

I like how every post is used as a marketing opportunity by the company. #Newspaper,NotAmazon


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

 

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