Hans Gangeskar, Sheldon Kilpack, & Edvard Engesæth, MD

Photo credits: Sheldon Kilpack

I first heard about Nurx after I told my mom an idea I had about a company which would deliver pharmaceuticals to people’s doors in San Francisco, sort of a bike messenger service that worked with pharmacies. My mom, Shannon Weber, told me about Nurx.co, a company delivering PrEP and contraception in San Francisco. I could not wait to meet Hans Gangeskar and Edvard Engesæth, MD, the founders of Nurx, to learn the workings of a company like this, where they were headed and what their plans were. I imagined they were starting with PrEP and planned to later distribute all pharmaceuticals with drones, but was surprised and very inspired when they told me their plan was to change the way people get contraception and create a service that made getting PrEP to the millions of people that need it as convenient as possible. They also opened my eyes to the idea that having more steps for the customer to take to get care is actually a barrier to getting care. So, the more steps required, the less people will be getting care who need it. Their whole approach reflects this idea of simplifying the process of getting PrEP and contraceptives.

Here are pieces of my interview with Hans and Edvard:

What was the original idea?

Hans: So it started out when we were just toying around with what we could do with technology and health and then it quickly transpired that Eddy, who’s a doctor, gets called all the time with people who need a prescription for this or that.

Edvard: 90 percent of those were girlfriends of friends that needed a renewal of their birth control, and of course it was when they had already ran out, so they just needed it right then… Hans told me about PrEP and we got really got excited about that and saw we could use the same type of model with a few adjustments.

Hans: If everyone has to come in for a half hour consultation and then get a lot of testing and then come in for another consultation before they get PrEP, then it’s not feasible to get it out to all the people that need to get it.

How did the idea of bring this to people’s houses in a city come about?

Hans: If there is an easier way, then we have to find the easier way. Every step you have for people to do, someone is going to fall off. Really applying that thinking to PrEP and thinking, how can we take care of someone without having to make them jump through extra hoops? A perspective that’s common in the medical field is, if you have to make someone jump through many hoops in the name of safety and good care, but the result of that is that they drop off… the end result is that they don’t get the care they need… the best care is getting people what they need when they need it.

How long have you been working on this?

Hans: We’ve been working on the concept for about a year and it really started to pick up in April 2015. We began prescribing and delivering birth control within San Francisco in October 2015, we aim to begin prescribing and delivering PrEP in the first quarter of 2016.

What is your goal?

Hans: I’d like to say it is changing the way people get health care, and change the point of entry into the health care system for people. In the shorter term the goal is to get many more people on PrEP, and I think we really have a stab at totally changing the number of people that are on PrEP.

 

Seeing how revolutionary PrEP is, with its medical and social benefits, I came away from Nurx thinking more about how incredible PrEP’s impact has been on people and thinking about what will happen moving forward. How will the demand for PrEP be met? What more can be done in this movement? So, rather than seeing a platform like this lead into a brand that distributes pharmaceuticals, I believe Nurx is reinventing the way people are prescribed contraceptives and obtaining them, in a way that effectively gets help those in need. Nurx represents PrEP’s movement in such a positive way, reinventing the way people are prescribed PrEP so the millions that need it can get it.

 

Sheldon Kilpack is a student at Lick-Wilmerding High School, bringing a youth perspective on PrEP implementation to HIVE and PleasePrEPMe.org. He loves his mom (Shannon Weber/HIVE director) not just because he has learned all about HIV and sexual health. Sheldon is a maker and wry observer of the obvious.