"When I was 17 years old, I experienced erectile dysfunction." My interviews with startup founders are rarely as frank. But to destigmatize the affairs of his new company Roman and sympathize with his customers, Zachariah Reitano becomes vulnerable.
"I think in a good way, I became insensitive to embarrassment," says Reitano, 26. "I remember the embarrassment of having the disease without a solution and it's far worse than sharing the fact that I've had it and that I could fix it myself. "
Roman launches today.
This is the result of Reitano's quest, a complete reinvention of the prescription process for men with erectile maintenance issues. Patients complete the medical history as part of Roman's dynamic online tour that answers their questions and concerns. It is safely transmitted to a doctor for examination, and if they are a safe and appropriate candidate for erectile dysfunction drugs, they can instantly obtain a written prescription for Viagra, Cialis, or Generic Drugs.
This prescription can be filled anywhere, or in Roman's cloud pharmacy, which packs the pills per dose, so that they are more mobile than the orange medicine vials and you do not have to. take only the right amount. Roman costs $ 15 for the online doctor's review, with competitive prices. It gains margins through volume and by giving up the overhead costs of the retail pharmacy. The speed and ease of the system could deter men from buying online often wrong pills.
Roman is funded by a $ 3.1 million round led by General Catalyst including Initialized, Box Group and Slow Ventures, as well as investors like Aaron Harris, Y Combinator Partner, Scott Belsky of Benchmark and Casper CEO , Code Academy. and Pill Pack. With only 30% of men who have treatment for ED, and 80% of Viagra purchased online being a counterfeit, these investors see how Roman could dramatically improve men's health experience.
From the Patient to the Pharmacist
The first signs of erectile dysfunction of Reitano at the age of 17 trigger warning bells at his father's, a doctor in sexual health. The founder says "it's like the engine light of a man." ED is often a symptom of much deeper underlying conditions because [having an erection] requires many systems to work in harmony, including circulation and hormones. "
His father knew it, and brought him for a stress test to the doctor. While he was on the treadmill, Reitano's heart stopped and he collapsed. After heart surgery, he was prescribed medications that had a side effect of ED. Reitano kept this private, and over the years his heart healed and he was able to get rid of the drug. Finally, he began his first serious love relationship. But in February, some of his heart disease came back while he was working as a contractor-in-residence at Prehype.
"I was prescribed the same medication after my initial cardiac procedure," recursed Reitano darkly. "It was one of those scenes in the movies where the doctor says something and you erase everything else." I had a partner for three years and I knew it was going to affect my relationship with her. "
It was at this point that he realized that the ED patient's experience was so broken. It may take a month to get a doctor's appointment, you have to go there and have awkward conversations with receptionists and doctors, then deal with the pharmacy once you've prescribed medication. Avoiding all this leads men to buy Viagra without a prescription from unregulated online pharmacies, where pills are often adulterated with floor wax, paint, and printing ink.
With co-founders Saman Rahmanian, co-founder of Managed By Q, an office management startup, and Rob Schutz, vice president of growth at BarkBox-maker Bark & Co, Reitano founded Roman
20% of people in their 20 years experience ED. 30% of those in the 30s, 40% of those in their forties. Reitano says his goal is "to educate the public about the urgency, it's less about sex and more about the general health of a person."
Potential patients can consult Roman safely because they are reimbursed if they are not eligible for medication or have too complicated a telemedicine case. Roman now employs 20 physicians who maintain the consulting fee but pay Roman a monthly subscription to work with his clients, who can request a telephone or video follow-up. Roman's admission forms eliminate much of what doctors waste time doing during in-person visits. Its automation systems signal problems while streamlining obvious approvals or denials so that the docs can focus on more complex cases.
Patients are typically prescribed four to ten doses per month, which can range between $ 2 and $ 65 per dose, depending on whether they purchase branded or generic drugs. But to fight the abuse, Roman will not send more than 10 doses a month to anyone.
Now that Roman's patients, doctors, and pharmacies are ready to use, it's not the code but the code of conduct Reitano is agonizing about. When asked what keeps him awake at night, he tells me, "The first part of the oath of Hippocrates: do no harm." Reitano says that before, if an application that is it was not working, "the worst thing that happens is nobody uses it. The stakes are higher by building a health business. But he is confident that "we can build a platform where [doctors] will make less mistakes than in person" because Roman's systems check for drug interactions and other problems.
Roman will have to compete with the status quo of silent suffering, painstaking doctor visits, dangerous online pharmacies and other startups as they go. One site, Lemonade Health, also serves ED prescriptions, but it also manages contraception, flu, STDs, acne and hair loss. Reitano points out that Roman's emphasis on erectile dysfunction allows patients to work with expert doctors who can answer all their questions.
Now, Reitano is Roman's first client. As for him and his girlfriend, he tells me, "We have overcome the challenge together. We are both on board to share our experience. If my coming out allows someone without treatment to get treatment, my embarrassment is insignificant in comparison. "
While men may be afraid to address such a sensitive topic with their partners, Reitano happily concludes that "when you trust someone with something personal, I think that". they are complimented by her, and she reciprocates that trust. I think that has opened our relationship yet again. "