GoodRx and Iodine merge for digital drug pricing, effectiveness transparency tools

By Heather Mack
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Santa Monica, California-based GoodRx, a digital cost transparency tool specifically for medication, has merged with San Francisco-based Iodine, which offers a similar tool for quality assessment and information on medications. Fast Company first reported the news, and said the merger took the place at the end of 2016 but was not publicly announced. The terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

Fast Company reports that the companies will continue to work out of their respective headquarters and the companies haven't shown any signs of shuttering either brand.

GoodRx launched in 2012. People use the app by entering the name of their prescribed drug and zip code, and receive a list and map of prices for both brand name and generic versions of the drug in return. The company later partnered with Aetna as a data source for developers looking to build apps with Aetna-managed APIs. Each week, GoodRx collects millions of prices and discounts from pharmacies and drug manufacturers to identify the best deals (the app also features price alerts, coupons, discounts and savings tips at pharmacies located near the use), and the company claims it can save users up to 80 percent on prescription drugs.

GoodRx raised $1.5 million in seed funding and also got an undisclosed amount of follow-on funds in October 2015 from Francisco Partners and Spectrum Equity.

Iodine is a little different in that it is focused not so much on cost-saving, but on steering users to the medication that works best for them. In 2014, former Wired executive editor Thomas Goetz and Matt Mohebbi, a former Google engineer, launched Iodine to offer drug information and feedback loops from a single search engine. Instead of Googling around and amassing fragmented lists of resources that can be difficult to understand, people can instead log into Iodine and see others’ experiences – including demographics, preferences and tolerances – thus allowing them to ask more informed questions for their doctor or pharmacist. Iodine’s data is largely crowdsourced today, but Goetz and Mohebbi started out by purchasing 100,000 Google consumer surveys of drugs to build the initial tool. Last year, Apple selected Iodine as one of their first CareKit partners for Start, an app designed for patients to assess if their prescribed antidepressants are working.

The two companies first began collaborating in August 2016, working on a project to incorporate drug-pricing data into Iodine’s existing content. At that same time, Iodine announced partnerships with efficacy-focused digital health company Evidation Health and online pharmacy PillPack. Since both GoodRx and Iodine are committed to helping consumers find prescriptions that work for them, rather than getting off medication altogether, the merger made sense.

“GoodRx focuses on affordability of prescriptions and Iodine has created insightful, in-depth, and yet-easy-to-understand content that helps consumers understand their drug choices and benefits and potential risks of their prescriptions,” GoodRx CEO Doug Hirsch said in a statement to Fast Company.