Meet Innovator of the Week
Please provide your 30-second pitch about your company.
Informulary produces the DrugFactsBox – an easy resource for evidence-based facts about prescription drugs. We let consumers, pharmacists, doctors, and decision makers know what FDA knows about the benefits, harms and uncertainties of prescription drugs— in clear, plain language. The consumer version is now available in beta: DrugFactsBox.co.
What distinguishes Informulary from most prescription drug websites is our primary data source: the FDA itself. We extract key information from FDA review documents– unfiltered by drug companies — to highlight the data that were the basis of FDA drug approval.
Informulary is totally independent, so we don’t take money from drug companies or other advocacy groups. And our work is backed by Dartmouth-Hitchcock health system and 20 years of research that we’ve done as professors at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice in the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College.
Who or what was your best resource for starting your company?
When co-founder Dr. Steven Woloshin and I first decided to build a company, we were referred to Professor Gregg Fairbrothers, the founder of the Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network. He helped us with the nuts and bolts of getting the company founded, finding team members, and building the operations. He agreed to chair our board and has been instrumental in guiding the fundraising and launch of the business.
Dartmouth-Hitchcock has also provided us with invaluable support. And Consumer Reports was not only our first customer, but has also been a true collaborator.
What was your biggest obstacle in starting your company and how did you overcome it?
We launched Informulary to commercialize many years of research in communicating benefits, side effects, and uncertainties about prescription drugs. To scale the production of DrugFactsBoxes library for many prescription drugs, we had to figure out what we do as experts and break it down into steps and processes. Developing this process has been our biggest challenge, and biggest reward. One of the most gratifying achievements has been figuring out how to quickly train recent undergrads to identify the high value information in FDA reviews. We’ve developed a competitive “gap year” Analyst program for recent college graduates looking to get some valuable entrepreneurship and experience analyzing prescription drug data. The program is really working well. We’ve been able to attract outstanding Analysts which is great for us because of the important work they do. Its also great for them – after a few months on the job we believe that our analysts know as much about interpreting drug research data as any medical student. And we think it’s great for New Hampshire – keeping young talent here in the State.
What’s the best advice you have received?
Gregg Fairbrothers told me, that when it comes to decisions about hiring, engaging consultants or taking on collaborators, you should always “date before you marry.” For example, some of our best gap year analysts originally came to Informulary as interns while still college students. They spent a few weeks with us – enough time for them to see if the work – and our mission – is right for them, and enough time for us to see if they are a good fit for us.
What about the NH lifestyle appeals to you?
I get to live in such a beautiful part of the world but still work with world-class entrepreneurs and researchers.
What does the future look like for your company?
We hope to get DrugFactsBoxes to as many people as possible. We recently launched our consumer beta DrugFactsBox.co and are now raising money to bring the product to employer health plans and clinical settings.