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July 26, 2019

Prescriptions on Demand: The Growth of Direct-to-Consumer Telemedicine Companies

Author Affiliations
  • 1Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 2Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA. 2019;322(10):925-926. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.9889

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising for medications and other health-related products and services has been a prominent part of the health care landscape in the United States. More recently, DTC drug telemedicine has become increasingly popular as a model of care delivery.1 Bold orange banners can be seen by commuters who use public transportation about “the erectile dysfunction meds you definitely don’t need, but your ‘friend’ was asking about,” while frequent advertisements on social media celebrate the ease of obtaining prescriptions for acne or contraception. DTC telemedicine companies have attracted large sums of venture capital funding in order to grow rapidly; according to Pitchbook, the company Hims raised $197 million with a $1.1 billion valuation since its launch less than 2 years ago. Nurx, a company that prescribes contraception, added prominent board members including Chelsea Clinton to help lead its expansion.2

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