Dr. B has raised $8 million in seed funding for its newly launched prescription telehealth service, which is now available in 41 states. The company is named after CEO and founder Cyrus Massumi’s grandfather, who went by the nickname Dr. Bubba and became a doctor during the 1918 Spanish Flu.
Founded in the midst of Covid-19 in 2021, based in New York Dr. B started as an online business that found people with unused vaccines. It has been able to offer vaccines to more than 1 million people in 37 states by partnering with more than 700 health care providers, according to a news release. Now that vaccines are more readily available, the company is shifting gears. It now aims to improve limited access to Covid-19 treatment at home, starting with Paxlovid and molnupiravir.
“Although Covid-19 antiviral pills have been available for several months and there is high demand, many people still have difficulty accessing them because they require a prescription,” Masumi said. “Patients need flexible options to obtain this prescription, which is why we started by providing antiviral prescriptions for Covid-19.”
Although the company is starting with these prescriptions, the funding will help it expand to other treatments beyond Covid-19, Massumi said. This includes treatments for heart health, dermatology and reproductive care. The startup will also work to offer its services in languages other than Spanish and English, he added.
To get prescription drugs, patients of Dr. B complete an online assessment through his website. They must submit a photo of a positive Covid-19 test and answer questions about symptoms, pre-existing conditions and medications they are currently taking. A board-certified physician then reviews the responses, and if the physician determines the patient is eligible, a prescription is sent to the patient’s pharmacy of choice.
“We are solving a key pain point in the process – the need to get a prescription within five days of a positive test,” Massumi said. “Our platform offers a seamless way to get prescriptions online with no appointment required.”
The company is focused on providing low-cost — or sometimes free — care to patients, said Massumi, who previously founded Zokdokan online service that allows people to find and book medical appointments.
“I’m proud of the work we did while I was at Zocdoc, but one of my biggest regrets is that we didn’t do enough to improve access to health care for all,” he said. “I am trying to correct this with Dr. B.”
Most patients pay a $15 consultation fee. But people who need it can get the services for free as long as they meet the requirements. These patients must complete a questionnaire about their monthly income to determine eligibility.
Massumi added that while the fee “is less than the average insurance fee,” it still helps Dr. B provide “free care for lower-income patients.”
Other online prescription companies include GeniusRx and Amazon Pharmacybut Massumi said Dr. B differentiates itself from competitors by providing this free option.
Photo: Stuart Ritchie, Getty Images