A Doctor For Sensitive Issues

Our portfolio company Nurx started out offering birth control prescriptions on a mobile phone delivered to you in the mail. This has been a game changer for many women who live far from a doctor or a pharmacy or live in places where it is not easy to get a birth control prescription.

But they have not stopped there. They added HIV Prep for people who are at risk for HIV and want to protect themselves. And then they added emergency contraception (the morning after pill).

And this week, Nurx added at home testing for sexually transmitted diseases. From that blog post:

The tests offerings include: The Full Control Kit, which tests for gonorrhea and chlamydia (throat, rectal, urine swabs), syphilis, hepatitis C, and HIV (blood sample), and is $75 with insurance or $220 without; The Healthy Woman’s Kit, which tests for gonorrhea and chlamydia (throat and vaginal swabs), trichomoniasis (vaginal swabs), syphilis and HIV (blood samples) and is $75 with insurance or $190 without; The Covered With the Basics Kit, which tests for gonorrhea and chlamydia (urine sample), syphilis and HIV (blood sample) and is $75 with health insurance or $150 without. The goal is to make STI testing easier, more affordable, and with fewer awkward face-to-face interactions with a potentially judgmental lab tech or doctor. The tests are available in 24 states and the District of Columbia.

The idea behind Nurx is that too many people put off going to see the doctor because they are ashamed, it is awkward, or it is inconvenient. And this is particularly true for sensitive issues.

Nurx believes that technology (the mobile phone, telemedicine, logistics, etc) can and will change this for most people and that we can all become healthier as a result. Preventive medicine is the most efficient and affordable kind of medicine and we need more of that in society.

Nurx has grown like a weed over the last two years which tells me that there is a large unmet need for this kind of health care and I am excited to see the Company continue to add more and more services as they grow.

#hacking healthcare

Comments (Archived):

  1. CJ

    “The idea behind Nurx is that too many people put off going to see the doctor because they are ashamed, it is awkward, or it is inconvenient. And this is particularly true for sensitive issues.”So true, especially with younger folks. Removing the stigma is a long-term game, but removing the human and therefore the embarrassing interaction, as they are doing, is quicker and can have an impact now. I applaud them for this.

    1. Richard

      or parents could raise adults and not perpetual children.Moreover, most of these services are offered FREE with your FREE annual visit to your FREE primary care physician visit.And Yes, you can get most scripts mailed to you for FREE via your healthcare RX deliverer, such as CVS.Build a relationship with a primary care physician, not USV et al. Your life may depend on it.

  2. Saul_Lieberman

    Better: Doctorless Testing for Sensitive Issues

  3. Mark Gavagan

    I love learning about these startups that ingeniously address “obvious” needs, that I never really recognized before. Nurx will help a lot of people. Go!

  4. jason wright

    Why ‘Nurx’?

    1. fredwilson

      New RX

      1. Girish Mehta

        If that’s what you were going for, not clear it works.It is Rx. Not rx (Nurx) or RX (NURX).https://www.merriam-webster…The difference between “Nurx” and “NuRx”.

        1. jason wright

          ‘NuRx’ makes sense.

  5. TeddyBeingTeddy

    “hi, Nurx? I’m ashamed that i need Ritalin, and lots of it, spread out in many small bottles/bags…where can we meet?”

    1. Richard

      I’m ashamed of NSADs , hook me up while you are it. And there isn’t a pharmacy in my neighborhood (I mean by buidling)!

  6. awaldstein

    Just smart.And the right thing.And a massive business driven by a community market.How many businesses check those boxes?Damn few.

  7. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Wow, I remember Varsha Rao from the Eve.com days (when I was launching BeautyRiot). Great to see her at the helm here. This is a thing that should exist, and I’m amazed that it can. Bravo.

    1. Richard

      Sad to see you in favor of this

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen


        1. Richard

          Many reasons, but i can’t think of a more important relationship that that of a woman and her dr, particularly the age group that this app is going after. There are now 15 + companies in the US offering birth control online, all VC backed and we know that most if not all won’t be around in 3-5 years.

  8. Richard

    USV current investment theme seems to be taking advantage of the ignorance of the young and the poor. I am old enough to remember Nurx being a front page story in the NYT for fraudulent medical practices and old enough to remember USVs investment theme of targeting highly engaged people. Times must be tough in VC land.

    1. David C. Baker

      Richard, I don’t know you, so forgive me if I’m killing someone’s sacred cow, here, but as a complete powerless poster on Fred’s blog (i.e., I’m not a mod), I don’t find this short, snotty posts all the helpful or conducive to what is otherwise a really interesting conversation. Maybe provide more context? More elucidation? Or none at all? It just seems like there’s some undercurrent that we on the outside aren’t aware of, and it just strikes me—a reader—as more noise than signal.

      1. Richard

        I don’t think it’s important to for me to win a majority – on a difference of opinion with a blog post – with readers in general. Those who are interested can decide on whether to think over an issue. On the other hand, when I see half a story, I’ll probably jump in and comment on what’s missing.The time to learn about the Healthcare system is not when you are sick. For anyone under the age of 30, the time you spend on the healthcare system today will pay dividends tomorrow. Like most things in life, taking shortcuts rarely pays off.

  9. JamesHRH

    The cycle AVC is very productive – 1:1 models.Culturally, there is a lot of work to do to match behaviour to the underlying tech & structures.The death of group identity & the rise of individuals driven by principle will be the monster wave of the 2000’s.Let’s hope it happens without an Armageddon level event.

  10. JLM

    .Who takes the blood samples and where?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. pointsnfigures

      Theranos. (just kidding)

      1. jason wright

        Ha! As was Theranos.

    2. Pete Griffiths

      Good question

    3. jason wright

      Your local tattoo parlour. They know needles.

    4. Allison Berry

      Responding on behalf of Nurx – we work with a partner lab Molecular Testing Labs, which is a CAP and CLIA-certified lab.

      1. JLM

        .Thank you.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  11. pointsnfigures

    would be interesting to see what they could do with diseases that affect older people. If they could find them before they happen so someone could do something about them. As the boomer generation gets older, they will consume a lot of health care (and most of it on taxpayer’s dimes)

    1. Bill Geiser

      Agree. Money spent on prevention of serious age-related health issues could produce significant savings.

  12. Molly

    Really exciting, thanks for sharing and supporting Fred! Love to see the growth to service offerings. Empowering women and individuals to take after their sexual health and wellness, feel more comfortable, have support and gain access to care is a extremely important issue in an time where reproductive rights are being reversed and stripped in some states.

  13. JLM

    .For those opposed to abortion or those who fall into the “safe, legal, rare” school, the idea of contraception has to be something to support.Likewise, the spread of STDs.So, I like the concept and think it is both needed and socially attractive. Fewer abortions and less STDs — if Trump proposed that, even Dems would be in favor. JK — if it was Trump’s idea, we all know it would be for shit. Sorry.From a pure investment perspective, the question becomes — is there a moat?Planned Parenthood Direct is in 26 states (the big, populous ones like California, Texas, Florida, New York, Illinois) and NURX is also available in 26 states, not the same, but close.PPD has an extensive installed brick and mortar network, so they have a one-two punch.It feels to me like a pretty simple service. There is a limited number of options for contraception. There are a limited number of STI tests to be done.It is sort of like Theranos but without the dishonesty. NURX has gotten a little bad press, but it is all within the shadow of expectation.What is the secret sauce? Sorry.What differentiates the NURX service from PP Direct? PPD doesn’t have that speed of light entrepreneurial zeal, muscle going on, but they have a Hell of a brick and mortar network and they are in the business of solving the problem if it goes awry.Who draws the blood and where?This is a triple awkward/PITA kind of thing — the blood drawing (which about 90% of humans hate while the other 10% self-identify as vampires), the whole “what kind of sex are we talking about here?” thing, and the insurance complexity.It is like the grocery business colliding with delivery — everybody is buying the same stuff, the differentiation is going to be the delivery and the last ten feet getting it into the refrigerator.Walgreens and CVS are both working on putting a practitioner in their stores to absorb wasted space. They will get into this business sooner or later. Why not?What is the cryptocurrency angle?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  14. Mike

    Sensitivities aside I would think this model would apply to any prescription or test that does not require a face to face interaction with a NP, Physician, Lab Tech etc. Who wants to schedule and drive to an office?

  15. Gustavo Melo

    I see many of the folks speaking out against this doing it on principle, while the service is borne out of painfully practical and urgent need that is obvious from observing the news and America’s political climate. I suspect the customers of this service are not too worried about principle when they need a birth control pill, and are afraid to go to a doctor who will actively work against their wishes and health, and that’s why this will work.