Virtual care company Ro launches prescription allergy service

The new medications are focused on seasonal allergies.
By Laura Lovett
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Direct-to-consumer virtual health company Ro is now offering allergy care. The launch means that users of Roman and Rory will be able to get prescription allergy medications through the platform’s telemedicine model. 

While the company said that the new service will not be treating food allergies or uncontrolled asthma, it will cover seasonal allergies, including conditions like hay fever. 

Patients will be able to get prescriptions for the generic forms of Xyzal (levocetirizine), Singulair (montelukast), Flonase (Fluticasone Propionate), Astelin (Azelastine Hydrochloride). 

WHY IT MATTERS 

According to the CDC19.2 million adults in the US were diagnosed with hay fever in the past 12 months. The company is pitching this as a way for users to access doctors and medical care to address this. 

In a Medium.com post announcing the new launch, Dr. Lauren Broffman, research scientist at Ro, noted that allergy season is lasting longer, thanks in part to climate change and air pollution. 

“We’d prefer if there was less air pollution and that global temperatures stopped rising, but we know that can’t happen overnight," Dr. Lauren Broffman, research scientist at Ro, wrote in a Medium.com post announcing the launch. "In the meantime, we want to provide convenient access to doctor-prescribed allergy treatment plans for anyone who needs it. Our mission is for telemedicine to democratize healthcare, and offering treatment for allergies is no exception.”

THE LARGER TREND  

Ro made a name for itself as a platform specifically for men’s sexual health and wellness. Since then it has launched female-focused services under the name Rory. The company has also dipped into smoking cessation, with its platform Zero, which uses a prescription nicotine replacement therapy and behavioral app. The company is also particularly well-funded. In 2018 it landed $85 million to work on Zero. The company’s most recent launch was for a weight management pill. 

Ro and competitor Hims, which also works in in the online mail-order sexual health space, came under fire when a New York Times article examined the company’s prescribing practices. The article points out that the clients come to the platforms with a “self-diagnosis” and don’t need to see a doctor in person.