Podcast interview with Ralph Kalies, CEO of BidRx

BidRx is one of the more interesting companies I’ve come across recently. Founder and CEO, Ralph Kalies has used his intimate knowledge of pharmacy and PBMs to create a consumer-oriented competitive marketplace for prescription drugs. Kalies believes traditional PBMs are a poor match for patients in the age of consumer-directed health care. In particular, he faults the lack of head-to-head competition by pharmaceutical companies for choice of product and the lack of head-to-head competition from pharmacies for fulfillment.

BidRx addresses these issues by establishing a competitive electronic marketplace, which helps consumers initiate generic and therapeutic substitution and allows pharmacies to compete on price and service. In preparation for the interview I gave the system a try, initiating auctions for Retin-A Micro-gel, Lipitor and simvastatin. My rationale was as follows: Retin-A is a drug with no real generic or branded substitute, Lipitor is a heavily promoted branded drug for which there is no generic equivalent, but there are some generic products in the same class. Simvastatin is one of those generics and it’s also available on the Wal-Mart $4 drug list (or $10 for 90 days).

The results for my home market of Boston were not particularly impressive. I was quoted prices higher than what I’d find at Wal-Mart and similar to regular retail prices. When I tried the same search –but specifying a home address near BidRx’s headquarters– the results were dramatically better, especially for simvastatin. Believe it or not, I was quoted $0.87 for a 90 day supply, including free delivery!

The system is very sophisticated and I encourage you to have a look.

September 12, 2008

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