The ‘Uber of prescriptions’ comes to the Toronto region

Getting a prescription medicines could be more convenient for Toronto area residents now that PopRx, a Canadian startup that calls itself the Uber of prescriptions, now operates in the GTA.

The PopRx app for iPhone lets users take a photo of their prescriptions and pill bottles, then place an order with a single tap and expect their medications to arrive the same day from a local pharmacy with no additional fees.

It’s a compelling idea since prescription medications are extremely common. A Statistics Canada survey found that 41 per cent of 6 to 79-year-olds had taken at least one prescription medication within two days of being interviewed. And Canadians over 80 are even more likely to take prescription drugs. PopRx essentially provides an easy option for anyone who feels in no condition to go to the pharmacy.

PopRx first launched in Winnipeg where it has been adding around 100 users a week, but it has national ambitions and the Toronto market is its biggest step to date.

PopRx might be familiar to regular viewers of CBC’s Dragons’ Den. Founders Ali Esmail and Vejey Gandier successfully pitched their business to Nicole Verkindt and Harley Finkelstein, a dragon duo who invested a total of $100,000 for a 10 per cent stake in the company.

Adam Levy, PopRx’s Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, answered some of our most burning questions about the company:

If PopRx charges no premium for delivery on top of the drug cost, how does it make money?

PopRx works with its network of independent partner pharmacies to provide quality service to smaller than box-store pharmacies. In exchange for our software, network support and services, PopRx charges less than a 1$ per filled prescription, paid by the pharmacy. The patient has no additional costs on their end for using the PopRx service and application.

How are the medications actually delivered? Is it through local couriers?

We deliver through local couriers or in some cases, through the pharmacy’s existing delivery system (their part/full time driver).

We’ve even had a pharmacist go above an beyond and deliver himself once, because the patient needed a rush, and he wanted to make sure she got it.

What markets does PopRx currently serve?

Toronto, Durham (Pickering, Ajax, Whitby, Oshawa), Richmond Hill, Vaughan, Hamilton, Kitchener, Winnipeg.

We are looking to expand throughout Ontario and Manitoba in early 2016 and already have plans for BC and western Canada in 2016. Any pharmacy that wishes to join our expansion plans can contact us and join at no initial costs, and be up-and-running in under 3 days.

What regulations govern the mobile delivery of prescription medications? What has PopRx done to meet them?

We comply with all regulations in our active provinces. We ensure that all the proper patient information is given to the pharmacy and pharmacist for them to conduct their appropriate due-diligence and communicate with the patient if necessary. We also make sure that the original prescription is given to the pharmacist, for them to maintain a proper documentation procedure.

How do you ensure that this service isn’t abused to get prescription drugs for recreational use?

PopRx transfers a proof image of the prescription (Rx) to the nearest neighborhood pharmacy, dependent on the delivery destination. Upon receiving the prescription, the authorized and licensed pharmacist, has on hand the patient’s prescription, insurance information and fully completed personal and health profile – everything they need to perform an informed decision on being able to approved the prescription, much like in person at the pharmacy counter.

Should the Pharmacist believe the Rx to be fraudulent, the pharmacist simply ‘Rejects’ the order with a cited cause. Our customer and pharmacy support staff review these cases and flag any issues that may arise in order to avoid abuse of the system.

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David Hamilton
David Hamilton
As a journalist, I delve into topics where technology and society collide. I’ve written for Canadian newspaper The National Post, and posted more than 3,000 articles on technology related to the Internet as a staff writer for trade publication the Web Host Industry Review. And I host and produce a podcast called Techish.

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