This Startup Wants To Become The Google Of Drugs
The time is ripe for a year-old Denver-based startup called RxRevu, founded by a medical doctor, Dr. Kevin O'Brien.RxRevu offers a way to make sure that patients aren't being overcharged for their prescriptions. It uses a massive drug database to ensure a doctor isn't prescribing a more expensive drug when a less expensive one is equally effective. CEO Carm Huntress says that the company's goal is to "organize the world's pharmaceutical data" and to use better technology to change the way doctors, hospitals and insurance companies look at prescriptions. That sounds a lot like Google with its mission to "organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful."
Americans spend $300 billion a year on prescriptions and about $55.8 billion is spent on more-expensive drugs when a less expensive version will do, according to research by prescription management company Express Scripts, reports Forbes.
RxRevu isn't always looking for generics, but in some cases different drugs altogether. It maps a particular patient's health history to all of the published research on the drug's effectiveness, factoring in the latest published information, says Huntress.
It may conclude that a patient should try a different and less expensive drug to treat high blood pressure or cholesterol or diabetes than the one the doctor has prescribed.
In a trial run in analyzing Aetna's claims database, covering 10 million people, RxRevu discovered $387 million worth of savings on drug prescriptions, which averaged out to be $300-$500 per patient, it says.
This is a somewhat dangerous endeavor, too. Pharmaceutical companies spend a lot of money wooing doctors to get them to prescribe profitable, brand-name drugs.
"Some people have said to us, 'You're going to have to have body guards with what you are doing,'" Huntress jokes.
The downside for consumers is that this tech isn't available directly to them — yet. Currently it's licensed only to insurance companies and to app developers who want to write apps with the data. The startup is very young, though, founded in early 2013, and has plans for more app development. It's also been accepted into StartUp Health, an incubation program chaired by former Time Warner CEO Gerald Levin.