Startup Health & Wellness

Denver Startup Helps Combat the High Cost of Prescription Drugs

By Margaret Jackson Sunday, February 7, 2021

A pharmacist holding a tablet and a prescription box.

A Denver-based startup company that helps healthcare providers prescribe lower-cost medications has raised $7 million to fuel the development of its technology platform.

Through RxRevu’s SwiftRx platform, pharmacy benefit managers deliver information about patients’ health insurance to healthcare providers who can use it to ensure they prescribe the lowest-cost medications their insurance covers.

“By bringing accurate data to the point-of-care, providers can see patient deductible and cop-pay information, as well as how much medication costs vary,” company spokesman Adam Rosenberg said. “Providers are willing to switch to lower-cost medication options if they can save the patient money at the pharmacy.”

Spending on prescription drugs has increased business dramatically over the past decade, reaching $358.7 billion in 2020, according to the business data platform Statista — up from $253.1 billion in 2010. The United States (US) has the highest total drug spending among developed countries. Consumers spend the most money on antihypertensives, pain relievers, and mental health drugs.

San Francisco-based JAZZ Venture Partners led RxRevu’s Series B funding round. The company’s health-system partners made additional business investments. Furthermore, it’s the second round of funding for the startup company, adding up to a total of $28 million in investments for the business.

“It’s rare to find a digital health startup that has reached this level of scale in such a short period of time while being incredibly capital efficient,” JAZZ Managing Partner Andrew Firlik said in a press release. “Reaching over 150,000 subscribers in less than a year is a huge achievement and speaks to RxRevu’s unique strategy and exceptional team.”

Other companies JAZZ has invested in include Genesis Therapeutics, which uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies to speed up the development of new medicine; Halo Neuroscience, which develops technology for improving motor and cognitive skills; and Embodied Inc. a robotics and AI business that created the robot Moxie to promote play-based learning.

In the Beginning

The company started doing business in 2013 when Dr. Kevin O’Brien saw that his mother’s prescriptions were costing her hundreds of dollars each month. O’Brien looked up the medications to determine whether there were lower-cost options and saved her nearly $400 a month by switching to prescriptions that were covered under her insurance.

“Doctors might prescribe medications they’re familiar with, regardless of whether that medication is covered under the patient’s insurance,” Rosenberg said. “ We’re trying to inform doctors with better data so they can make the most clinically-relevant, cost-effective decisions at the point-of-care.”

To start the business, O’Brien partnered with RxRevu entrepreneur Carm Huntress, who has more than 20 years of experience in startup businesses focused on consumer and enterprise technology, to form the company that today has nearly 50 employees.
Rosenberg said the most recent investment in the startup company will enable it to add more employees on the engineering and development side of the business who will help scale current products and deliver additional patient data to point-of-care.

Cost-Saving Strategy

Working with a Colorado-based healthcare system, RxRevu calculated its platform saved patients more than $80,000 over a ten-month period. Rosenberg said that while each patient interaction is unique, some patients saved a few dollars, and others saved several hundreds.

“Price is the No. 1 reason patients don't pick up their medications,” Rosenberg said. “It’s important physicians select medications that are on the patient’s formulary.”

Many health plans publish a list of medications that are covered — commonly known as the drug formulary. The differences in coverage can be as minor as prescribing a medication in the form of a tablet versus a capsule, Rosenberg said. With connections to the largest pharmacy benefit managers and electronic health record systems in the country, RxRevu delivers formulary and patient coverage data to the electronic prescribing workflow, allowing physicians to see medication details in real-time.

“It might even be the same medication, but selecting a different delivery method can save patients hundreds of dollars,” he said.

“The company is poised for growth as regulations are implemented around transparency and the cost of healthcare,” Rosenberg said. The country is facing a convergence of mandates for price transparency and interoperability — bringing patient data and costs to where they matter most — and RxRevu is positioned to drive innovation in this space.

About the Author


Headshot for author Margaret Jackson

Margaret is an award-winning journalist who spent nearly 25 years in the newspaper industry. She has covered a variety of business topics, including residential and commercial real estate, technology, telecommunications, and cannabis.

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