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New-media venture could challenge existing pharmacy benefit-verification processes for specialties
ZappRx, a new-media startup in Boston, is enjoying some of the same buzz as that of Silicon Valley firms addressing shared apartment rentals or on-call taxi services. The company, founded in 2012, received a million-dollar venture-cap injection in the fall, and another one in January, including funds from SR One, a venture-cap arm of GlaxoSmithKline. According to press reports, the company started out building a tool for patients to use when purchasing pharmaceuticals and had complicated reimbursement issues. But it quickly refocused on the infinitely more complex field of specialty pharmaceutical prescriptions, where lab tests and alternative dispending facilities combine with prior authorizations into what can become a 50-page scrip. Amber Amendola, VP business development, says that the process can take two weeks or more when performed conventionally; ZappRx hopes to halve that.
The plan is for ZappRx to provide a portal where, for example, the availability of an infusion center is coordinated with dispensing the pharmaceutical and with authorizations and reimbursement are consolidated. Each participant—the payer, the dispensing center and the pharmacy—can see the details; the patient can view, through a smartphone app, approvals and schedule times, or provide a needed e-signature.
The company is aiming for clients among specialty pharmacies, who could use the software to coordinate care. Preliminary negotiations are under way with several pharmacies, and with some manufacturers who are looking at a better way to obtain data on prescribing and outcomes, says Amendola.