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The Dartmouth Staff inteview about HealthTech Capital investment in Pharmasecure
by Anne DeGheest
31 October 2011


PharmaSecure - an international company founded by two Dartmouth alumni in 2007 that prints unique barcodes on consumer drugs to verify their authenticity - received additional funding this week, bringing its total awarded amount to $3.9 million over the past two months, co-founder and CEO Nathan Sigworth '07 said in an interview with The Dartmouth. PharmaSecure, which is based in Lebanon, N.H., and operates exclusively in India, received the funding through a joint investment from HealthTech Capital, Gray Ghost Ventures, TEEC Angel Fund and Innovation Endeavors, which is run by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, according to a PharmaSecure press release.


The company installs specialized printers that print unique barcodes and serial numbers on drug labels in pharmaceutical factories, Sigworth said. When a consumer purchases a drug, he or she can text the code on the label to PharmaSecure, which then sends a response message notifying the consumer of the drug's authenticity, he said.


There is no charge for consumers to use PharmaSecure's service, Sigworth said. The company profits from the drug manufacturers that purchase and use the printers, he said.


PharmaSecure, which was co-founded by Taylor Thompson '08, plans to use the funding to expand its team and develop new ways to use the data it collects regarding where drugs are used and who purchases them, Sigworth said. He said he hopes this information will allow people to receive better health care in the future.


Anne DeGheest, managing director of HealthTech Capital, said HealthTech was attracted to PharmaSecure because it fit with the fund's aim of investing in companies that use business models to improve health care delivery.


"PharmaSecure really hit our sweet spot," she said. "They found a low-cost and effective way to reach out to the patient so that he could confirm that the drug he had in his hands is correct."  HealthTech invested over $400,000 in PharmaSecure and also encouraged Innovation Endeavors to give a donation to the company, DeGheest said.



DeGheest and her husband Bob Molinari '74 Tu'79 first met Sigworth at a reception at the home of Tuck School of Business professor Gregg Fairbrothers '76, who serves as director of the Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network, she said. Molinari helped pull together the first round of funding for PharmaSecure in 2007, Molinari said in an interview with The Dartmouth. Although the technology to solve drug-counterfeiting problems - including radio frequency identification, nano ink and barcodes - has existed for a long time, no one had put together a successful business model based on such technology, he said.


"The business models didn't really work," Molinari said. "You can't have someone in rural India buying a scanner."


In its early stages, PharmaSecure carried out extensive on-the-ground research in rural India and Africa and realized that cellphones were a platform to which everyone had access, Molinari said.


PharmaSecure labels are currently on 65 million drug packages in India and 1.5 billion drug packages exported from India to other countries, Sigworth said.


Earlier this year, the Indian government mandated that all drug exports from India include unique serial numbers and barcodes by July 2012, the press release said. This mandate is directly connected with Pharmasecure's work, DeGheest said.


"They managed to convince Indian authority that Indian manufacturers had to find a way to show the drugs were legitimate," she said.


PharmaSecure's business strategy is similar to that of Sproxil, a company based in Africa and established by Shivam Rajdev Tu'09 and Ashifi Gogo, a PhD candidate in the Thayer School of Engineering's Innovation Program. Sproxil also allows consumers to check the authenticity of pharmaceuticals by verifying codes printed on drug containers.


Sigworth and Gogo originally worked on the same research project together at Dartmouth before founding their respective companies, Sigworth said.


"We started to go different directions," Sigworth said. "They're a great group of people taking a slightly different approach.PharmaSecure receives $3.9 million


By Felicia Schwartz, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Friday, October 28, 2011"PharmaSecure receives $3.9 million



tagsTopics: Angel funding, HealthTech Capital



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