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So-Called 'Uber' For Prescription Drugs Underway In New York City

By Victoria Kim 02/03/16

Zipdrug aims to make getting your prescription drugs as easy as ordering pizza. 

Photo via Shutterstock

A program that has been likened to popular mobile ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft is underway in New York City, aiming to simplify the process of obtaining prescription medication by allowing people to skip the line at the pharmacy.

The program, which launched on Jan. 7, is a collaboration between walk-in clinic operator CityMD and New York-based prescription delivery service Zipdrug. The service has reportedly made thousands of deliveries since it launched in July 2015. It is also available through other health care providers, but CityMD is Zipdrug’s first major brick-and-mortar partner. Now, they’ve placed the company’s first and only on-site kiosk at CityMD’s Murray Hill location. 

Zipdrug, founded by former Google exec Stu Libby, will join competitors that already provide prescription delivery services, like CVS, Walgreens and other mail order pharmacy options. Libby likened the service to how Uber has revolutionized the car service industry. 

“They’re connecting dots and simplifying the process and putting it into the palms of the consumer,” said Dr. Ned Shami, a co-founder of CityMD.

After a doctor’s appointment, patients can scan their prescription and insurance cards into a Zipdrug kiosk. The company processes the request and confirms the order with the patient’s pharmacy. Then it sends a HIPAA-certified courier, all of whom must go through a background check, drug test and medical privacy awareness training.

Couriers can be tracked through a real time interactive map mobile app or online so patients can check on delivery progress, similar to how Uber users can track the location of drivers.

Libby said he discovered a way to address an issue that many pharmacies face. In his research, he learned that one of the biggest challenges for pharmacies is the cost of drug abandonment, when prescriptions go unfilled.

This may seem like a risky venture in a time when America’s addiction problem is rapidly growing, but Zipdrug does not deal with controlled substances. They do not deliver prescriptions that require a government ID to pick up. That means the service will not provide the same convenience for drugs such as certain pain medications, anti-anxiety medications, and Xanax, among others.

The collaboration with CityMD, which has more than 50 locations in New York, is expected to expand to other locations starting this month, according to Crain's New York Business. 

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr

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