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ships pre-sorted medications in time-stamped packs to help people take their pills on schedule, and it helps manage refill requests. In 2016, PillPack had a spat with Express Scripts, which briefly removed PillPack from its network of pharmacies. (Pharmacy benefit managers process prescriptions and negotiate prices with pharmacies and drug makers; they can also operate their own mail-order pharmacies.)
PillPack accused Express Scripts of trying to quash competition and own more of the value chain, while Express Scripts claimed the startup misrepresented itself and shipped meds to at least one state where it wasn’t licensed to do so. After public pressure from PillPack and its customers, the two sides resolved the contract dispute, and PillPack was allowed to stay in Express Scripts’ pharmacy network.
It’s no surprise that O’Donnell, who has worked in software engineering since the late 1980s, believes good technology wins in the end.
“You let the lawyers fight off the other junk and just make good software—and then you’ll eventually succeed,” O’Donnell says.
Still, he acknowledges that buying prescription drugs online isn’t as easy as purchasing a pair of shoes. For example, Blink’s customers have to input the correct dosage of a drug and make sure they select the correct pharmacy location, O’Donnell says. His team’s job is to make the process as simple as possible.
“We have to craft the experience so you pull people through the process and not lose them,” O’Donnell says. For Blink, winning and keeping customers “is not as simple as applying best practices from every other e-commerce site in the world.”
When asked about the possibility of competition from Amazon, O’Donnell spins it as a positive.
“The more players in the game, the more you know that you’re in the right game—especially when they’re a smart company like Amazon,” he says. “You see the competition out there, and if you pay too much attention to them, it’s distracting. What you really should be doing is looking at your own software and trying to make that really good. That’s the best way to compete and win.”