Members of the New Haven community may soon have a new way to get their prescriptions.
Pills2Me — an early-stage company founded by Leslie Asanga MPH ’20 — offers people the opportunity to have their prescriptions delivered from local pharmacies to their doorstep. The platform can currently be accessed through the company’s website and as an app. A toll-free number is also available for placing orders and is primarily geared toward elderly members of the community who may not want to download the app. The service can pick up and deliver prescriptions from any pharmacy to those who need it. The company is headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada, but is relaunching in New Haven with a goal to start delivering prescriptions this April.
“Pills2Me is essentially a pharmacy delivery service,” said Alison Zerbib ’24, who is currently an intern at the company. “It started with the intention of helping the immunocompromised and the elderly … but now it has expanded to the general public. Leslie calls it the ‘DoorDash of prescriptions.’”
Pills2Me is currently free to members over the age of 65 and offers additional services — users can also purchase over the counter medications and consult with pharmacists through the app.
When an order is placed using Pills2Me, the customer enters their prescription and pharmacy information and is subsequently matched with one of the company’s drivers, according to Zerbib. The driver, who then gets authorized to pick up the user’s prescription, will collect the order from a local pharmacy and deliver it to the user’s address, within the time frame of 30 minutes to two hours. All drivers for Pills2Me undergo extensive background checks and are trained according to the guidelines of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
Asanga came up with the idea for the service during his time as a student at the School of Public Health, during which he was also working at a pharmacy in the area. The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic he witnessed while working there inspired him to create Pills2Me.
“When the pandemic hit … there was [an] increase in prescription abandonment,” Asanga said. “A lot of people, especially the elderly and immunocompromised, were not picking up their prescription that [was] already at the pharmacy, because they were scared to go out and there were also lockdowns in place.”
He added that other elderly individuals were taking the risk of contracting COVID-19 to come to the pharmacy in person. When Asanga asked them why they chose to do so, they often said that it was because they did not have a reliable caregiver to collect their medications for them.
Inspired to address this situation, Asanga launched Pills2Me as a volunteer-based organization in New Haven in late March of last year. During its initial launch, the service was only offered through a website and operated manually. All services were also free during this initial trial of the service.
With the majority of volunteers unable to stay with the organization permanently, Asanga aimed to pivot away from volunteering to a paid-driver system, which he also hoped would increase the scalability of the company.
Asanga piloted this new version of Pills2Me in Las Vegas in July. In this version, users under the age of 65 were charged a delivery fee to cover the costs of paying drivers, while the service was still free to those over 65. Given the success that the company saw in Las Vegas, Pills2Me will now be relaunching in New Haven and aims to start deliveries in early April of this year.
Some Yale students are getting involved in the New Haven relaunch. Zerbib and Astri Doub ’24 are business marketing and business development interns, respectively, at Pills2Me and were matched with the company through the Yale Entrepreneurial Society, or YES. Both said they hope to see the service grow in New Haven.
“My older brother is immunocompromised so when I read the description of it, it just really hit home and I thought it would be a really cool opportunity to do something where I could really see the impact,” Doub said. “In addition to doing social media with Alison and trying to create traction there, I’m also writing the business plan for them … That’s my main goal. Just making sure they have something they can give to potential investors as they raise their first seed fund.”
Asanga hopes that Pills2Me can one day be available across the country and become a household name. He credits some of his success thus far to the support he received from his professors and mentors during his time at Yale.
According to Asanga, one of the most valuable insights he has gained from launching Pills2Me has to do with how his team works together.
“I’ve learned the importance of having a great team in a startup,” he told the News. “People with the right skills set to execute and also the right culture fit. It helps accomplish and exceed goals and gives you people to rely on during turbulent times.”
Users are able to track the status of their prescriptions while being delivered, according to the Pills2Me website.
Maya Geradi | firstname.lastname@example.org