Online and mobile platform Nurx, which uses telemedicine to connect rural patients to contraceptives, has raised $36 million in a Series B funding round led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, with participation from Union Square Ventures, Y Combinator, and Lowercase Capital. MobiHealthNews alum Heather Mack broke the news for the Wall Street Journal.
In addition to the funding, the San Francisco company also announced a prominent new board member: philathropist, author, and former First Daughter Chelsea Clinton.
“With efforts you see around the country to further restrict reproductive health access, we need to set the bar high to connect people with information and birth control access,” Clinton told the Wall Street Journal. “We want to see as much innovation both in for-profit and not-for-profit models for sustained access, and this is a moment where we are more likely to see that in a private company.”
To use Nurx, women can download the app or go to the Nurx website to select the brand of contraceptive they prefer. They then answer health-related questions, and a licensed clinician (employed by Nurx) reviews the information before sending a prescription to a partner pharmacy.
Cofounders Hans Gangeskar and Edvard Engesaeth were inspired to create Nurx as a means of removing barriers to birth control and HIV prevention medication. In the United States, birth control is only available with a prescription, and the app aims to make the experience as close to over the counter as possible by eliminating the need for a doctor’s visit.
Nurx raised its $5.3 million series A in 2016. At the time it was only operating in California, New York, and Washington, but today the service is offered in 17 states and the District of Columbia, including rural and southern states like Texas and Missouri where contraceptive access is more difficult.
“Birth control pills have been used for decades, and with such long-term monitoring, have been found to be overwhelmingly safe. So safe, in fact, that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has strongly recommended that the pills be made available over-the-counter, as is common internationally,” Dr. Jessica Knox, Nurx’s medical director, said in a statement back in 2016. “The pill remains prescription-only throughout the United States today, but with our app, we’re making birth control more accessible than ever."