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February 04. 2014 10:58PM

NH pharmacy lands $4M in funding for custom pre-packaged doses of medications

MANCHESTER — A promising mail-order pharmacy based in Manchester announced its launch in 31 states on Tuesday, thanks in part to an infusion of $4 million in venture capital.

PillPack, which delivers prescriptions in pre-packaged envelopes for each day of the week, has been navigating the regulatory process and raising money since early last year.

It is now licensed to ship to 31 states, and hopes to eventually serve all 50 states from its pharmacy and distribution center in the Waumbec Mill at 250 Commercial St.

"Managing medications is a complicated and stressful chore for people who have multiple prescriptions," said T.J. Parker, pharmacist and CEO at PillPack. "PillPack is a pharmacy that's making the end-to-end process both simple and understandable. We've used modern technology and a healthy dose of design to reinvent the entire pharmacy experience."

Parker's father owns and operates Northeast Pharmacy in Concord, which has for years offered a similar service exclusively for patients in assisted living facilities.

As he began his own pharmacy career, Parker teamed up with Elliot Cohen, an MBA graduate from MIT's Sloan School of Management, to create PillPack.

By January 2013, they were pitching the idea to investors, and by May had enough backing to begin serving the first group of customers in the first states to license the PillPack pharmacy. The company has been using its existing customer base to iron out any kinks in the operation in preparation for Tuesday's 31-state launch.

The company has raised $4 million to date from Atlas Venture, Founder Collective and angel investors. Both Atlas and Founder have offices in Cambridge, Mass. The PillPack development, design and marketing offices are in Somerville, Mass., while the pharmacy, packaging and distribution center is in Manchester.

Many of the company's 12 employees split their time between both locations, said Parker, who described the business as a combination pharmacy, software development, distribution and licensing firm.

The first prescription was mailed out in September from the Manchester location. PillPack mails medications every two weeks, but not in prescription bottles. The order arrives in pre-sorted, sealed, individual envelopes organized by date and time, linked together with perforations on a dispenser roll.

"I like having a presence in New Hampshire," Parker said. "I grew up there, and we think it's a really great place to do business."

The 31 states where PillPack is currently licensed include all of New England and New York. As the company grows, it will have to bring on employees to service a customer base that could reach more than a million people, according to investor Fred Destin, a partner in Atlas Venture.

"If people love our service, do not churn and recommend us, we should be able to serve a million American citizens in a few years," he told the Wall Street Journal.

As part of the financing, Destin and David Frankel, a partner with Founder Collective, joined the PillPack board.

Parker said the business is labor intensive, and will create jobs.

"Assuming this thing works the way it should, we will be hiring quite a few folks in Somerville and in New Hampshire," he said, "everything from pharmacists to technicians to software engineers to marketing people. It's going to take a very broad range of talents."



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