San Francisco-based Nurx, a telehealth company that offers prescriptions for birth control and HIV-prevention medication Truvada through an app, has raised $5.3 million in Series A funding in a round led by Union Square Ventures. Lowercase Capital, SV Angel and six Y Combinator partners also contributed.
Nurx, which operates in California, Washington and New York, will use the funds to expand their research and development operations, primarily in the form of across-the board engineer hiring.
Users download the app or go to the Nurx website and 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. The app launched in December 2015, and Nurx completed Y Combinator in March of this year.
“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. “The pill remains prescription-only throughout the United States today, but with our app, we’re making birth control more accessible than ever."
The company told Mashable that users fall into some specific categories – minors, for one, who don’t feel comfortable going to their parents’ doctor for contraception, Medicaid users (the company also accepts insurance or out-of-pocket payments of around $15) or those who live in rural areas and face challenges getting to the doctor every six months.
“Lack of affordable access to medical care is an issue that many people face today,” Union Square Ventures parter Andy Weissma said in a statement. “Nurx is building transformative technology that changes the way people interact with health care, leveraging messaging platforms, mobile apps, bots, and embedded systems to lower costs and simplify the patient experience through telemedicine.”