These Start-Ups Want to Solve Men's Health Problems: Who Will Win?

NOVEMBER 19, 2017
The push for on-demand services cannot be overstated, whether it is GrubHub for food, Uber for transportation, or virtual clinics for health needs.
 
There are already telehealth companies that target women's health, such as and . They aim to help women gain easier access to finding prescriptions for oral birth control.

Now several start-ups are targeting the men's health market, with prescriptions aimed at hair loss and erectile dysfunction (ED).

One such company is , which is aimed solely at the ED market. Roman allows a man to create an account online and get a virtual consultation for the suitability to use medications such as Sildenafil, Tadalafil, or Vardenafil. The online consultation with a Roman provider takes about 5 minutes and costs $15. The patient is charged for the cost of the therapy and then mailed the prescription in custom, discreet packaging. The cost of treatment ranges from $2 to $63 per dose, according to the company's website. The service is available in California, Florida, New York, and Pennsylvania.
 
Another company, , offers services targeted at hair loss, skin treatment, and ED. Hims offers Sildenafil at $20 for 10 tablets, following an online consultation with one of the company's providers. 
 
These companies are sticking with low-risk management diseases. One company, , for instance, covers all these conditions and more, such as cholesterol management, the flu, sinus infections, urinary tract infections, and even offers tests for A1c, cholesterol, and sexually transmitted diseases. Companies such as Roman and Hims are competing to see which can offer the best niche private experience for men who are seeking these services without having to see a doctor or visit an actual pharmacy, as the drugs they are prescribing are relatively uncomplicated. As a result, more competition is likely on the horizon. The significant limitations will be rules and regulations surrounding telehealth services in different states and locating prescribers who wish to engage in this type of service. 

One question that remains to be answered is related to the push for several states to allow pharmacists to dispense oral birth control. Although some success has been seen, these new companies' services can offer more and from remote sites. This is an area to watch, especially as it may pose new competition for pharmacists trying to engage their patients in these types of services. On the other hand, these start-ups may also start including pharmacists as potential providers in selected states, depending on local rules and regulations related to pharmacist telehealth services.


Timothy Aungst, PharmD
Timothy Dy Aungst, PharmD, is an associate professor of pharmacy practice at MCPHS University. He graduated from Wilkes University Nesbitt School of Pharmacy and completed a PGY-1 Pharmacy Practice Residency at St. Luke's University Hospital, and then a Clinical Geriatric Fellowship at MCPHS University. He is passionate about the rise of technology in health care and its application to pharmacy. He has published primarily on the role of mobile technology and mHealth, and made multiple national and international presentations on those topics. He blogs at TheDigitalApothecary.com, and you can find him on Twitter @TDAungst.
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