Tech entrepreneur Cary Breese was searching for his next big problem to solve when a sore knee forced him to take a trip to the doctor’s office.
He readily got a prescription for his knee, but to get it filled was a painstaking process. He had to wait in several lines to drop it off, pick it up and speak to a pharmacist. That left him wondering why the process of filling a prescription had yet to be streamlined.
So, he called his co-founder Sumeet Sheokand, who said his wife had just made a similar complaint. It was at that moment when NowRx was born.
The Mountain View-based prescription delivery service provides free same-day delivery, from its warehouse fulfillment centers, which are staffed with its own licensed pharmacists, and is looking to become a replacement for big-name pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens. Since NowRx’s launch in 2016, the business has expanded to eight locations across California and Arizona.
We recently caught up with Breese to talk more about the health tech space and how the pandemic has shifted the demand for prescription delivery services.
Q: How does NowRx differ from other pharmacy delivery businesses?
A: One of the differences is we are the pharmacy of record, so we’re not just doing delivery for other pharmacies. We do all the processing, and we think that’s really where the value is added, not just in the delivery side of it but what’s actually going on inside the pharmacy.
Q: How has the pandemic impacted your business?
A: When the pandemic first hit and lockdowns were instituted, we had a tremendous spike in customer demand. We had patients really panicked about how to get their medications. We had patients ordering a year’s worth of medication when ordinarily they would only request 30-days. We obviously had a lot of new patient interest, and so in those early days of the pandemic, it was okay how do we manage this growth and this increase in demand.
Q: How do you think COVID-19 becoming more endemic will impact pharmacy delivery businesses?
A: We did see a huge spike in demand during the lockdowns. Once the lockdowns were alleviated, we trended back to the ordinary historic growth pattern that we had experienced before the pandemic. So it sort of normalized to a very healthy growth plan.
I don’t expect that COVID kind of tapering off into a more endemic situation is going to affect that trend. More and more workers are working from home, working remotely, looking for more convenient access to day-to-day services including healthcare. We’ve seen an increased demand in telehealth across the country. We think that’s going to continue regardless of what happens to COVID and so we think we’re in a really good spot and in a really good growth curve. We don’t see that changing any time soon.
Q: Last year you added telehealth appointments as one of the services NowRx offers. What prompted that decision?
A: As we’re starting to think about affecting not just pharmacy, but healthcare at large, it was a very national extension for us to also want to help patients get connected with physicians from the convenience of their own home to effect better healthcare.
We built a telehealth platform where we can connect patients that may have difficulty getting access to the right physicians at the right time in a convenient way and that augments our prescription delivery business. We now have a solution for patients where they can be at home in their pajamas, they can have an appointment with a physician in a video conference and they can get prescribed a medication through that meeting with a physician.
Q: What’s next for NowRx?
A: We are expanding in several ways. We are increasing the number of territories where our pharmacy delivery service is offered, as well as the telehealth service. So expansion is number one. We are currently operating in California and Arizona. We are expanding into Denver, CO; Las Vegas, NV and Bellevue, WA. There are other states coming after that.
We’re building a nationwide company to provide these services to patients in multiple markets across the country. Number two is we are expanding our capabilities to handle not just the medications that patients are familiar with from their local CVS or Walgreens, but more complex medications for things like cancer, fertility medications, Hepatitis, more complex diseases that ordinarily those medications you wouldn’t find them at a CVS or Walgreens, you would go to something called a specialty pharmacy. We are getting our accreditation as a specialty pharmacy to be able to offer more complex medications.
We work closer with insurance companies and doctors in that arena so that’s coming along the way. We’re expanding our telehealth platform along with that. We are adding a mail capability service so not everything has to be delivered same day. Sometimes it makes more sense to send something in the mail for certain patients on non-urgent medications or telehealth patients or basically expanding our reach to other territories where we just don’t have our delivery fulfillment centers established yet.
CARY BREESE PROFILE
Birthplace: New Jersey
Residence: Laguna Niguel, CA
Education: Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, Drexel University
Family: Happily married with two sons
FIVE THINGS ABOUT CARY BREESE
- Breese used to work as an actuary for Cigna where he specialized in data analytics, financial forecasting and modeling.
- To prepare for bringing home his pandemic puppy, Breese binge-watched about 100 hours of The Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan. Breese has used so many phrases and mannerisms from the show that his family started calling him Little Cesar.
- As a teenager, Breese loved attending concerts. He’s seen the Rolling Stones four times, The Who twice, Van Halen, the Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, Queen, Bruce Springsteen three times, Fleetwood Mac and Tom Petty three times.
- He taught himself how to sail on a Hobie catamaran when he was 14. He sails now with a sailing club in Dana Point and has sailed to three of California’s Channel Islands.
- In high school, he went on a bike camping trip for four days across New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania that spanned 300 miles.