This piece was written for CannaTech by MedPayRx, presenters and audience-choice winner at our Live Cannabis Pitch Event this past October in London: Blockchain solutions for the medical cannabis industry.
MedPayRx is a path or calling as much as it is a start up. I have been working on this idea since 2013. And it is very simple in concept. At heart, it is a processing machine, with a technology called blockchain at its core – and that works as its “engine.”
We have a lot of tag lines but the one that is the most descriptive? We are a smart prescription company.
Our goal is to take the pain and paper out of the prescription drug process. And further to put insurance approvals (and agreement to underwrite the co-pay) in the front of the process. Many patients cannot afford to pay the huge out of pockets required for trial-to-mainstream pharmaceuticals.
This is true of most new and “experimental” drugs. It is also true of medical devices that are prescribed by a doctor.
However, the drug that I wanted to help mainstream, from the start, was medical cannabis.
I know, from personal experience, how much medical cannabis can change lives for the better. It changed mine. And yet the ongoing barriers to patients – in every country – remain significant and often insurmountable even in a period of, at least, recognition of medical efficacy. In a country like Germany, I believed, with a strong mandate still to protect the chronically ill and under public health insurance, that I might find the trigger and the way to launch this company and this concept.
I knew as soon as I understood blockchain, that I had found the right technology. I have known for a long time that medical cannabis might be the right trigger, if not one of the most powerful market entry strategies.
Perhaps this sounds like a crazy gamble, but at root that is the story of every entrepreneur.
To do this, I have changed a lot about my life. I moved to a new country – the land of my German Jewish fathers – who founded Germany’s first department store in the 1880’s. I have learned (at least to B1 proficiency) the sprache of my vorvaters. I have braved immigration, strange politics that feel oddly my own, a German graduate school and a life of uncertainty so far to launch this dream. I am starting to find a team who also believes in this as much as I do.
And despite the hard road, we are making progress. The idea of using blockchain as infrastructure, as a unique bridge to information and processes otherwise impossible in a regulatory and technical environment that has developed to date, is finally coming to its own. The need to digitalize and automate processes vital to the ongoing functioning of society if not government and research beyond that, is now here.
And we are, in our small way, answering that call.
This year, I graduated with my degree and set about launching the company. I defended my thesis less than two weeks after the new law changed the regulatory status of mmj in Germany. Throughout the summer I have worked on positioning the company, creating a team, and moving forward on a beta prototype.
In October, we presented the idea at two start-up gatherings – the MainTech Disruptive Business Plan Competition at the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, and at CannaTech London. We came in second in both.
And that has further launched us into the next steps.
As of November, the MedPayRx team began establishing presence in Munich, home of Germany’s Insurtech and digital insurance center.
And what will the new year bring? We are enthusiastic about closing our first funding and launching our first MVP next year. We know we are having a conversation that must be had. And we know that our process and solution is certainly one way to help mainstream drugs into populations that need them. And help people who are either highly mobile or highly immobile, when they are sick.
Cannabis is one of the most revolutionary drugs on the horizon of development, but it is only one of them. As the population ages and new medicines are discovered or old ones reapplied, healthcare systems need ways to respond. And in new ways. Sometimes even across national borders.
They cannot in a paper-based environment. We have created an alternative. And now we sally forward to launch it. For the benefit of every German who needs a prescription and doesn’t want the paperwork. And beyond this country, others who are looking at both this issue and at the same time, how to legally integrate and control one of the most fundamentally disruptive drugs on the planet as it finally goes mainstream.