Online pharmacy Truepill raises $25 million to expand into telehealth

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Truepill, a digital pharmacy that enables health care organizations to deliver prescriptions directly to customers’ doors, has raised $25 million in a series B round of funding.

The U.S. prescription drug market is a $400 billion industry, and as with most other sectors, there has been a concerted push to “digitize” it. Amazon entered the pharmaceutical sphere in a big way back in 2018 when it snapped up online pharmacy PillPack, but Truepill is taking a different approach with a largely business-to-business (B2B) offering.

Founded in 2016, Truepill offers a number of services for pharmaceutical manufacturers, insurance providers, and health brands, including pharmacy fulfillment that delivers medication to people’s homes. Its suite of APIs serve up “programmatic” access to its online pharmacy, with brands able to customize the packaging themselves. Truepill operates five pharmacies across the U.S., two in California and one each in New York, Washington, and Texas, as well as a U.K. pharmacy in Manchester. The company said it plans to open in more locations “soon.”

Truepill had previously raised $13.4 million, and with another $25 million in the bank it’s now well financed to expand into new areas — including telehealth. Alongside today’s funding announcement, the company launched Truepill Health, which will connect 9,000 U.S. physicians with patients through real-time video.

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Above: Truepill CEO Umar Afridi with cofounder Sid Viswanathan

“We are now able to provide customers with access to a U.S-based network of licensed providers who can diagnose, treat, and prescribe across 50 states,” Umar Afridi, Truepill cofounder and CEO, told VentureBeat. “In talking to our customers, the need for an integrated telehealth solution was clear. Customers would say, ‘we’re ready for you to fill our prescriptions — now we just need to get our physician network in place.’ The delay could go on for months as they navigated the complexity involved in setting up their network. Truepill Health was a natural evolution for us, combining our flexible pharmacy infrastructure and API-connected technology with a provider network.”

The company also built a electronic medical record (EMR) system specifically with telehealth in mind, to “ensure a seamless experience,” as Afridi puts it.

Above: Truepill telehealth with EMR integrated

The series B round of funding, which includes TI Platform Fund, Optum Ventures, Initialized Capital, and Sound Ventures as investors, was already in the works before the COVID-19 crisis unfolded. However, the financing has proved to be crucial as Truepill has sought to meet the growing demand for its services during the pandemic.

“The funding has been essential in helping us scale our infrastructure and meet the surge in demand that we’ve seen due to COVID-19,” Afridi explained. “To quantify, the last 3 months we’ve seen record volume in prescriptions filled, with each month better than the last.”

In a rare disclosure of finances for a young private company, Afridi said that he’s projecting around $200 million in revenue this year, roughly double the figure on 2019.

Transformation

While many industries have suffered due to COVID-19, it has been clear from these past few months that businesses that enable society to function “remotely” are flourishing, and that includes telemedicine.

In March alone, when much of the world started going into lockdown, virtual health consultations grew by 50%, according to Frost and Sullivan research, and general online medical visits are on course to hit 200 million this year — up from the 36 million anticipated before COVID-19. As such, a slew of telehealth startup have secured sizable investments these past few months, including Medici, which is like a WhatsApp for remote medical care, which raised $24 million. Meanwhile Tyto Care raised $50 million to grow its telehealth examination and diagnostic platform.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recently said that COVID-19 had led to two years’ of digital transformation in just two months for his company, but for Truepill this acceleration has been even more pronounced according to Afridi.

“COVID catapulted the healthcare industry into the future,” he said. “The changes we’ve seen around telehealth over the last 3 months would have taken 5-10 years otherwise.”

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