Startup helps find cheapest prescription drugs

GoodRX shows consumers where they can find the lowest price on prescription drugs by ZIP code.

Boonsri Dickinson
Boonsri Dickinson is a multimedia journalist who covers science, technology, and start-ups. She is a contributing editor at CBS SmartPlanet, and her work has appeared in Wired, New Scientist, Technology Review, and Discover magazine. E-mail Boonsri.
Boonsri Dickinson
2 min read

A search for cholesterol drug Lipitor in San Francisco. Screenshot by Boonsri Dickinson/CNET

Everyone knows food and gas prices can vary by location, but the same is often true of prescription drugs.

GoodRX, which launched a new Web site today at the Health 2.0 conference in San Francisco, aims to show consumers where they can find the lowest price on prescription drugs by ZIP code.

"A lot of innovation looks at price transparency and convenience for health procedures, but nobody is looking to improve the consumer experience," said Doug Hirsch, co-founder of the Los Angeles-based startup. "We believe this first product from GoodRX can help every consumer in the U.S. easily save money."

Pulling data from state and federal agencies and from pharmacies directly, GoodRX says it analyzes more than a million prices for more than 6,000 drugs at 25,000 pharmacy locations in the United States. This allows consumers to compare prices on specific drugs based on where they live.

For instance, a sample search on GoodRX for Viagra in San Francisco (25mg per pill, 10 pills per bottle) shows a cost of $191.10 at FamilyMeds, $203.15 at Costco home delivery, and $206.67 at HealthWarehouse. The results are displayed on a map, allowing consumers to decide if it's worth driving across town to save money on the medication. Drugs can also be sorted by strength, quantity, brand name, and whether the drugs are available at a local pharmacy or online.

"More than 40 percent of people report having trouble paying for their prescription drugs, and 15 percent of prescriptions are abandoned because of cost or other issues," said Hirsch, a former VP of product at Facebook. "We believe we can help people get the treatments they need."

The company, which hasn't settled on a business model, is currently self-funded by its founding team, which includes Hirsch and Scott Marlette, the creator of Facebook photos, as well as GoodRX adviser Trevor Bezdek. The team has been in talks with Silicon Valley investors to raise additional funds, Hirsch said.

At the moment, the service is primarily for people who want to save money on drugs they pay for out of pocket. Hirsch plans to expand the pricing data to include insurance plan details.