Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Theranos 2.0? "Chasing Growth, a Women’s Health Start-Up Cut Corners"

What is wrong with Kleiner Perkins?
From the New York Times
When Matt Cronin worked in customer service at Nurx, a San Francisco start-up that sells prescription drugs online, one of his jobs was to manage the office’s inventory of birth control pills.
The pills were kept in the pockets of a shoe organizer hanging inside a closet, Mr. Cronin said. They had been shipped to Nurx customers from its partner pharmacies, but ended up at the office when they bounced back in the mail. His supervisors regularly assigned him to mail those same medications to different Nurx customers who had not received their pills, he said.
The practice was unusual. For safety reasons, federal and state laws generally require prescription medications to be dispensed through a licensed pharmacy and prohibit pharmacies from shipping returned medicines.

“Just like there would be an inventory for medication at a pharmacy, there was an inventory of medication at the office,” said Mr. Cronin, who had no pharmacy training and who worked at Nurx (pronounced NUR-ex) for seven months until last May. “There was a closet full of birth control.”

The closet of pills was an example of Nurx’s unusual methods as it made growth a priority, according to interviews with Mr. Cronin and eight other former employees, five of whom spoke on the condition they not be named because they signed nondisclosure agreements or feared retaliation.

The company is part of a new wave of start-ups seeking to upend traditional medicine by marketing prescription drugs and connecting people to physicians online who may prescribe them. Proponents of the approach say that it can significantly improve access to drugs like birth control pills. But many of these sites’ practices, which merge commerce with medical care in new ways, have raised questions because the companies operate in a regulatory vacuum that could increase public health risks.
At Nurx, in addition to the unorthodox reshipment of returned drugs, executives tried to revise a policy on birth control for women over 35, even though state medical laws typically bar people without medical licenses from influencing medical policy. One Nurx customer also suffered a life-threatening blood clot after taking birth control pills she ordered through the app.
“It was this mentality of ‘Don’t ask for permission — ask for forgiveness later,’” said Dr. Jessica Knox, Nurx’s former medical director, who worked there from 2015 until this January.

Nurx, which has more than 200,000 customers, became known as the “Uber for birth control” and spread a message of female empowerment. It landed prominent board members like Chelsea Clinton and has raised more than $41 million, largely from Kleiner Perkins.

In a statement, Nurx said that it stood by its safety record and that blood clots were a known side effect of taking birth control. With regard to shipping pills from its office, the company said it took the issue seriously and was investigating. It said the practice had ended nearly a year ago and affected a tiny fraction of the million orders it had processed since opening in 2015....

To answer the intro question see last week's"Venture Capital: "How the Kleiner Perkins Empire Fell"
For what it's worth the big VC backer and batshit crazy defender of Theranos wasn't Kleiner but rather DFJ's Tim Draper.

Finally, I thought the "Uber for Birth Control" was Uber:
August 2015
Update below.

Original post: 
Marketed to whom? Guys whose priapism makes a walk to the corner store less than comfortable?
Shakes the Clown meth-binging and frenetically making balloon animals?
Who needs the service? 

From the HuffPo:

24-Hour Condom Delivery Is About As Awesome As It Sounds
It's a dreaded scenario. You reach for a condom and -- horror of horrors -- you realize that you don't have one. It's late at night and the options are limited: head out under cover of darkness to whatever brightly-lit drug store happens to be open, or ditch your efforts at intimacy for the evening.

You'll never find yourself in this dilemma again if L. Condoms has its way -- the relative newcomer to the condom industry is delivering eco-friendly, socially responsible ultra thin condoms via one-hour bike messenger, 24 hours a day.

While the service is currently only available in San Francisco and Manhattan, the company has its eyes on expansion....MORE
Oh, No, No, No.
I think we've been sucked into a "...Self-referential vortex of psychologically important thresholds" that Cardiff Garcia warned about in 2012.

From VentureBeat: