Hims & Hers—the telehealth startup that prescribes and sells antidepressants, hair-growth formulas, anti-aging retinoids, birth control, sex drive boosters, and supplements—is launching in all 50 states and will now be able to conduct physician consultations in real time.
Over the past two years, the two brands—Hims launched in 2017 and added the Hers site in October 2018–have hosted one million medical visits. Patients who go to Hims or Hers are typically seeking a prescription for a specific problem, like performance anxiety. After selecting from more than 100 products on the site, customers must provide a credit card, consent to telehealth services and their risks, and agree to potential off-label prescribing of a drug—that is, for a health goal other than its official purpose. Then they fill out a questionnaire to be reviewed by a physician. If all goes well, customers get their script in as little as 48 hours.
So far, Hims & Hers has offered this service in 28 states. But to be in all 50 requires online consultations be done in real time. Starting today, consultations will be available over phone and video, depending on the medication and the state the patient is in. In total, 200 physicians and specialist doctors will provide these consultations.
Along with allowing the company to reach more patients around the country, the added functionality will let it expand into new prescriptions that require real-time consultations. CEO Andrew Dudum says he expects to launch nearly 100 new products in aggregate over 2020. “A lot of those are products that the physicians really do require synchronous video or audio consultation in order to safely prescribe and treat,” he says.
The company is among a class of startups that sell generic prescription drugs direct to consumer, with glossy branding and a healthy markup. On Hers, a packet of five 20mg Propranolol pills, typically used to treat high blood pressure and sold on Hers as a performance anxiety drug, goes for $25. On GoodRx, pharmacies sell a 60 count of the same pill for as little $10. Critics have raised concerns about such startups’ penchant for prescribing off-label and also for the spareness of its consultations. But these companies are betting they can become trusted healthcare providers by starting with lifestyle-oriented health products and expanding out into other areas.
In some ways, Hims & Hers is limited in the new products and services it can take on. The company does not accept health insurance. It’s a cash business aimed at people with high-deductible insurance or no insurance at all. New products will have to be relatively affordable and fit in with the healthy lifestyle the brand pushes.”Something like insulin, where the cost is ridiculous, the access is completely prohibitive, is an amazing category that I would love to figure out where we can help,” says Dudum. “Whether or not we do the whole supply chain for it, I’m not sure.” Already, his company is working with Ochsner Health System, a traditional healthcare provider that has developed a digital platform for managing chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and hypertension. The partnership started in Florida last year and is supposed to come to other states over the course of 2020.
Dudum says he is also interested in exploring primary care—”things like UTI, yeast infection, sinus infection, the common cold, the flu, dermatology issues.”
In the meantime, the next big push for Hims and Hers will be a brick-and-mortar pharmacy in Columbus, Ohio, later this year. The facility will launch as a 400,000-square-foot fulfillment center, but at some point will become a testing ground for the brand’s physical presence. Historically, Him & Hers has worked with third-party pharmacies to fulfill prescriptions.