ZappRx raises $1 million, including participation from GlaxoSmithKline

On Thursday, ZappRx, a mobile platform that automates prescription processing and handling, announced an addition $1 million seed round, led by Atlas Venture. The new bump in funding also included SR One, the independent, healthcare-focused venture capital fund related to pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline.

Prior to this round, ZappRx received $1 million from Atlas Venture in September 2013. The new round of funding will go towards expanding the app, which offers pharmacies an updated platform to take subscriptions and allows patients to input and manage their medications on a smartphone. The bulk of this expansion will go towards users who require specialty pharmaceuticals.

“In sharing the ZappRx solution with advisors, investors, and future customers, we learned that we had built a platform that reached far beyond the scope we’d originally envisioned for traditional retail,” said Zoe Barry, Founder and CEO of ZappRx, said in a press release. “Due to the complex and custom challenges associated with ordering specialty medications, no automated system currently exists for patients who need it most.”

Specialty pharmaceuticals — which include drugs for cancer and long-term chronic illnesses like HIV, MS and Crohn’s Disease — cost a total of $80 billion in 2012, even though the patient pool accounts for less than one percent of commercial healthcare members. Because the drugs are often imperative to sustain the lives of many who suffer from chronic disease, it’s often imperative for patients to remain diligent about their care programs — or risk skyrocketing costs.

The investment for ZappRx is the first of its kind for SR One, which has largely invested in drug developments only — not pharmacy technology. This could be good news for the burgeoning health startups, particularly those interested in tackling inefficiencies surrounding medicine manufacturing and distribution, as traditionally scientific companies like GlaxoSmithKline begin throwing their considerable amount of cash-flow to consumer-facing startups.