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The company was founded by Mark Thierer, former CEO of OptumRx
Everyone knows that prescription drugs are too expensive, and there have been no shortage of solutions looking to help cut down on those costs, including GoodRx, ScriptSave WellRx, PharmacyChecker, and Drugs.com.
The problem with those companies is that they are only solving for a slice of the problem, according to Mark Thierer, former CEO of OptumRx. That's why he founded Waltz Health, a provider of tools that help consumers make better-informed decisions on their prescriptions. The company officially launched on Tuesday with a $35 million Series A round of funding.
"Waltz Health is the only one aiming to work with all stakeholders in the prescription drug supply chain to lower costs. Our goal is to use software, data and technology to find ways to realign incentives and put consumers at the center," he told me.
The company's initial product is called Marketplace Search, a white-labeled, online search engine that pharmacies can make available to their customers. Combining data from drug-discount data sources, and then using artificial intelligence, Marketplace Search provides consumers with comparable prices for their specific medications.
"At Waltz, we are building the free-market machinery to lower the cost of prescriptions by assembling the industry’s most seasoned team. We understand that every player in the supply chain has a role to lower the cost of prescription drugs, which is why we are going to work with everyone to get it done," said Thierer.
"We love seeing innovation in the market that can help lower the price for prescriptions for consumers and we hope to partner with those companies to deliver value for all the industry’s stakeholders. There are a number of prescription savings programs available in the market today – whether through your benefits or out-of-pocket – and we will bring that information to the consumer at the point-of-sale."
Waltz's initial target customer are retail pharmacy chains, so that when a consumer goes to a pharmacy that the company has partnered with, they will be provided with a QR code or a link where they can access the white-labeled Marketplace Search tool at the point of sale. At that point, they'll see a list of different prices for their drugs that's based on all available savings programs.
"Most times, consumers don't know what programs are available to them, which creates a lot of friction and poor customer experiences for pharmacies," Thierer explained.
While the company isn't disclosing its customers names at this time, the plan is to announce several in the coming year.
Waltz Health's new $35.4 million funding was led by GV, and included participation from Define Ventures, Echo Health Ventures, Blue Venture Fund, Byers Capital, and Twine Ventures. Other funding came from the company calls "a prestigious list of seasoned healthcare executives."
The funding will be used to build out its team, adding 50 to 75 employee to its current count of 20 in the next year. It will also be investing in product development, including building out a tool available through healthcare consumers' payers, as well as tools that help reduce the costs of specialty drugs, which Thierer says is one of the main drivers of overall prescription drug spends.
"Waltz Health will apply software-driven solutions to all of our products. While we aren't ready to publicly announce all of our capabilities, we're starting with Marketplace Search, which uses AI and a mix of drug-discount savings programs to present the best price for consumers at their pharmacies," he said.
"We also see opportunities to offer tools similar to Marketplace Search to payers. Waltz Health will build the free-market machinery to actually bring down prices."
The ultimate vision is to create a a smarter pharmaceutical system, one that works together to deliver better outcomes for all, including better prices and better experiences for all stakeholders across the supply chain.
"One of our core principles at Waltz Health is that we need to work within the system, not try to blow it up. We need to look for ways to partner with the existing players to find a free-market solution. We don't believe that government-mandated price controls are the best way to solve the high-cost problem," Thierer explained.
"However, working within the system requires trusted leadership, which is what Waltz Health brings to the table. We've assembled the smartest, most experienced team from across the ecosystem so we can build trust and work well with every stakeholder."
(Image source: waltzhealth.com)
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