launching in HOU

Digital pharmacy launches in Houston to address access with same-day delivery

A new pharmacy startup has officially launched in Houston. Photo courtesy of Capsule

A health tech company has officially launched locally to serve as a digital pharmacy platform. The company is aiming to simplify the process for customers.

Capsule has launched in Houston to address access-challenged pharmacy deserts as well as allow for discreet delivery of frequently stigmatized medications. The company also prioritizes better communications than standard pharmacy service.

"Capsule's mission has always been to build a pharmacy that works for everyone," says Eric Kinariwala, founder and CEO of Capsule, in a news release. "We believe that the core pharmacy experience is fundamentally broken for the hundreds of millions of Americans who take medication regularly, so we set out to rebuild that experience from the inside out."

Capsule's custom software prevents common issues out-of-stock medications, long wait times, and lack of price transparency, as well as improves communications. Customers can sign up for the service — which includes same-day delivery within all of Harris County and parts of Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, and Montgomery counties — and have their physician send their prescriptions to Capsule. The company accepts all major insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid.

One problem that Capsule is attempting to solve is access to pharmaceuticals. According to the release, half of prescriptions in America go unfilled resulting in $300 billion in additional healthcare costs. One factor contributing to this problem is access.

"We know that there is a direct link between proximity to a pharmacy and prescription fill rates," Kinariwala says. "And the consequences of failing to fill vital prescriptions can be dire. Capsule is a part of the solution."

In Houston, pharmacy deserts disproportionately affect minorities. Over 40 percent of Hispanic residents and 70 percent of Black residents live a mile or more away from a pharmacy. According to USA Rx data, Harris County has 1.39 pharmacies per 10,000 residents, which is below the national average of 2.4.

"Capsule's long-term ambition is to create a hub where consumers can access all of their healthcare needs in a single, simple, holistic place," says Kinariwala. "We're doing that in a way that brings together everybody in healthcare versus trying to own all of those things ourselves. Just like you buy a cell phone and choose apps, people will be able to access Capsule's digital pharmacy, as well as a best-in-class curated set of products and services to meet all of their healthcare needs from within a single app."

Eric Kinariwala is the founder and CEO of Capsule. Photo courtesy of Capsule

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Building Houston

 
 

Houston-based medical device and biotech startup Steradian Technologies has been recognized by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Photo by Dwight C. Andrews/Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau

A female-founded biotech startup has announced that it has received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Steradian Technologies has developed a breath-based collection device that can be used with diagnostic testing systems. Called RUMI, the device is non-invasive and fully portable and, according to a news release, costs the price of a latte.

“We are extremely honored to receive this award and be recognized by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a leader in global health. This funding will propel our work in creating deep-tech diagnostics and products to close the equity gap in global public health," says Asma Mirza, CEO and co-founder of Steradian Technologies, in the release. “The RUMI will demonstrate that advanced technology can be delivered to all areas of the world, ensuring the Global South and economically exploited regions receive access to high-fidelity diagnostics instead of solutions that are ill-suited to the environment.”

RUMI uses novel photon-based detection to collect and diagnose infectious diseases in breath within 30-seconds, per the release, and will be the first human bio-aerosol specimen collector to convert breath into a fully sterile liquid sample and can be used for many applications in direct disease detection.

"As the healthcare industry continues to pursue less invasive diagnostics, we are very excited that the foundation has identified our approach to breath-based sample collection as a standout worthy of their support," says John Marino, chief of product development and co-founder. “We look forward to working with them to achieve our goals of better, faster, and safer diagnostics."

Founded in 2017, Steradian Technologies is funded and supported by XPRIZE, Johnson & Johnson’s Lung Cancer Initiative, JLABS TMCi, Capital Factory, Duke Institute of Global Health, and Johnson & Johnson’s Center for Device Innovation.

The amount granted by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was not disclosed. The Seattle-based foundation is led by CEO Mark Suzman and co-chaired by Bill Gates and Melinda French Gatess.

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