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🌱 Seed Spotlight #1 - MediCircle

Issue #46 — View online — Suggest a link
Health

The latest news and information about innovations in healthcare!

I am really excited to present the first edition of Seed Spotlight! This edition features a conversation with an early-stage startup founder building in the healthcare space. I will dive into the company’s business model, the problem they are solving, and learnings from the founder.
Today’s edition features MediCircle - a cancer drug redistribution company looking to rewire a $400B industry by helping patients dramatically cut the cost of treatment.

Company: MediCircle, founded by Eliza Sternlicht and Jack Schaeffer.
Problem: Over 1.9 million Americans are diagnosed with cancer each year. Of them, 64% struggle with treatment costs. Even so, doctors throw away ~$3 billion worth of oral cancer medication annually.
Solution: MediCircle collects those unused, unopened medications, re-certifies them, and distributes them to patients in need.
6-month goal: Secure their first medication collection partnership with a major health system + deliver their first batch of meds to a patient.
Background
I recently had the pleasure of chatting with MediCircle co-founder, Jack Schaeffer, during his self-inflicted 1-day break during Brown’s winter vacation. After our talk, he was on his way back to the MediCircle office in Providence, RI to get back to work. 
I quickly fell in love with MediCircle’s simple business model. They are solving a familiar problem in American healthcare - fragmentation mixed with misaligned incentives.
Jack and his co-founder, Eliza, started MediCircle during their junior year at Brown. Eliza interviewed 100 anesthesiologists while doing research for another project - over 50% of them said that medical waste was a serious problem. She grabbed Jack, and as he described it, they “drove around to every nursing home and hospital in the area.” While on these visits, they interviewed patients, doctors, and staff - all of whom said that a) medicine is being wasted, and b) medicine is prohibitively expensive.
Now focusing on cancer patients, Jack and Eliza found that 25% of all prescribed oral cancer medication gets discarded, yet over 60% of patients struggle to pay for these same medications!
With the problem in scope, the pair pitched their solution at the Brown Venture Prize competition: partner with doctors, patients, and health systems to collect unused medications, vet them, and redistribute them to patients in need at a stark discount. They won the $25,000 first place prize and began to build!
In under a year, they’ve raised their first round of funding, attracted an extremely high quality advisory board, and begun to discuss national partnerships with large health systems (all while attending Brown University).
The model
MediCircle’s drug collection and distribution process, as described on their website: 
Step 1 - Collection: Registered healthcare facilities notify MediCircle when a donation is ready and receive a prepaid shipping label. Only FDA-approved, unopened, unexpired oral chemotherapeutics in tamper-evident packaging are eligible for donation.
Step 2 - Certification: When we receive a donation, our team of pharmacists inspects the integrity of every pill and verifies the drug’s identity. Medications are cataloged in our secure database and stored in compliance with FDA and manufacturer regulations.
Step 3 - Distribution: A registered facility can request our medication on behalf of individuals experiencing difficulty affording their cancer treatment. We deliver medicine by mail so patients can seamlessly receive life-saving cancer treatment, for a standard co-pay of $20.
Discussion
Fragmentation plagues the American healthcare system. Providers from different health systems struggle to collaborate and have little incentive to do so. This lack of collaboration drives up costs and hurts patient care.
I see it everyday at Headway - 70% of primary care doctors struggle to connect their patients to timely therapy even though tens of thousands of therapists across the US have openings - over 50,000 hours of openings in Headway’s case!
MediCircle can fix this medication waste and fragmentation problem through centralized coordination. Their process cut costs for all parties involved too, a rarity in healthcare:
  • Health systems don’t need to spend money on incinerating unused drugs
  • Patients get access to high quality medication at a discount
  • Insurers spend less $ covering medication costs, which in theory will lower premiums
  • Drug manufacturers - 🤡. Prescription drug costs have risen 1,000% since 1980. They can handle it.
I’m most excited to see if Eliza and Jack take this beyond cancer meds. Americans spend over half a trillion dollars on medication each year - I’m confident they can make a dent in that.
Jack and Eliza have tested their process in a beta environment successfully, and are hoping to deliver a prescription to their first real life patient in the first half of 2022. I’ll follow up with MediCircle team in a few months to see if they are able to hit their ambitious goals.
Get in touch!
My name is Dan Cimaglia - I am the curator of Techstars Health Digest. If you know of any companies who should be featured on a future edition of Seed Spotlight, let me know!
If you enjoyed learning about MediCircle, please forward this newsletter to a few friends! It would mean a lot to me to share these stories with a wider audience.
You can also follow me on Twitter @dan_cimaglia, where I post similar content about healthcare, start-ups, and tech!
How to connect with MediCircle:
Sources
Techstars Startup Digest Health is curated by:
Dan Cimaglia Dan Cimaglia
dan.cimaglia@startupdigestmail.com
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