Nurx Review: Better Healthcare or Just Better Branding?

Nurx Review: Better Healthcare or Just Better Branding?


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Nurx is an online healthcare service that provides 24/7 access to doctors and prescription medication with or without insurance. The company sells both generic and brand-name versions of medication, and describes their service as "healthcare made simple."

But how does the cost of prescription medication on Nurx compare to other online pharmacies? What about the cost of over-the-counter (OTC) drugs? How do real users rate Nurx? And was the brand really storing birth control medications in a closet?

In this article we’ll answer all of these questions and more as we compare the prices of prescription medication on Nurx with Cost Plus Drugs (Mark Cuban's low-cost drug venture).

We'll also compare the prices of OTC drugs on Nurx with the prices on Amazon, share a real Nurx user review, and highlight a New York Times piece that exposed some damning information about how Nurx was allegedly storing medication when the brand first launched.

Are Prescription Drugs Overpriced on Nurx?

Cost Plus Drugs has the cheapest prescription drug prices of any online pharmacy that we've reviewed.

The brand has a transparent pricing model: customers are charged a 15% premium above manufacturing cost, which results much cheaper retail drug prices than competitors. 

This price comparison will be based on the retail price that patients without insurance pay. Here are a few randomly-selected drugs available on both Nurx and CostPlusDrugs:

Venlafaxine (antidepressant)

  • Nurx: $25
  • Cost Plus: $4.80

Sertraline (antidepressant)

  • Nurx: $25
  • Cost Plus: $3.90

Buspirone (anti-anxiety)

  • Nurx: $25
  • Cost Plus: $3.60

    Ondansetron ODT (anti-nausea)

    • Nurx: $15
    • Cost Plus: $8.70

    Topiramate (anticonvulsant)

    • Nurx: $15
    • Cost Plus: $3.90

    Clearly, Cost Plus Drugs offers vastly superior prescription medication prices to patients without insurance than Nurx, and this is even before considering the monthly fees associated with some drugs on Nurx.

    As an example, Nurx charges $55 per month for mental health treatment. This is in addition to the cost of any individual mental health drug. This may be a better option for some patients because it includes an initial consultation and unlimited messaging to the brand's medical team, but on a purely cost basis it’s clear that Cost Plus Drugs is the better option for uninsured patients.

    It is worth noting that many Nurx drugs are free or heavily discounted for patients with health insurance. All of the above-listed medications are free on Nurx with health insurance, so the platform may be a better option for patients with health insurance than Cost Plus Drugs, depending on the individual drug and plan.

    How Does Nurx Birth Control Compare to Other Online Providers?

    A YouTube video with over 400,000 views published by a channel called "As/Is" compared Nurx to two other popular online birth control medication providers.

    The reviewer compared the price, shipping time and convenience of all three services:

    Are OTC Drugs Overpriced on Nurx?

    Nurx sells a number of OTC drugs and tests on their website. This term refers to health products and services which don’t require a doctor’s prescription to purchase.

    Below is a price comparison of several randomly-selected OTC products sold on Nurx compared with their prices on Amazon at the time of updating this article:

    CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

      SwimCount Sperm Quality Test

      Differin Gentle Cleanser (4 ounce)

      Abreva Cold Sore Treatment (0.07 ounce)

      Based on our analysis, it appears to be more cost-effective to price shop OTC drugs on Amazon than on Nurx.

      Amazon also offers free shipping depending on customer plan, while Nurx charges for shipping on orders under $30.

      Was Nurx Really Storing Birth Control in Closets?

      Nurx was the subject of an exposé published by the New York Times in 2019. Because the article is behind a paywall, we’ll summarize some of the most interesting insights.

      A customer service employee claims that Nurx was storing birth control medications in potentially unsafe conditions: 

      “When Matt Cronin worked in customer service at Nurx, a San Francisco start-up that sells prescription drugs online, one of his jobs was to manage the office’s inventory of birth control pills. 

      The pills were kept in the pockets of a shoe organizer hanging inside a closet, Mr. Cronin said. They had been shipped to Nurx customers from its partner pharmacies, but ended up at the office when they bounced back in the mail. His supervisors regularly assigned him to mail those same medications to different Nurx customers who had not received their pills, he said.”

      The New York Times report also claims that executive leaders at the company were pressuring the company’s former medical director to loosen prescribing guidelines in circumstances where there exist federally-mandated warnings due to health risks:

      “Nurx executives were also trying to loosen prescribing standards, said Dr. Knox. Last year, she said, Mr. Czaja and Mr. Gangeskar asked her to revise a Nurx policy that advised its doctors not to prescribe birth control with estrogen to women 35 and older who smoked. Mr. Czaja said he and other executives wanted to leave the decision to women after informing them of the heightened risks.

      Birth control pills with estrogen carry a federally mandated warning cautioning against their use in women 35 and older who smoke. Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also say the risks of prescribing to these women, which include stroke and heart attack, ‘usually outweigh the advantages.’”

      We consider these two anecdotes to be potential red flags about a company culture that may not prioritize patient health and safety. We hope that if these reports are true, Nurx has since updated their internal policies.

      Real Nurx Customer Complaints

      Nurx has a rating of 1.84 out of 5 stars on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website with over 400 reviews.

      The reviews are overwhelmingly negative, and many reference issues with overbilling and poor customer service. Here's a review from an unhappy user named "MARY A" who gave the company a 1 out of 5 star rating:

      "NURX is a total rip-off! Do not give your credit card information or any personal information to this company. They have false advertising that they will prescribe medications at 1/3 the cost you are currently paying, and instead charge you...more than you are already paying at your pharmacy. Also, their customer service is deceiving and extremely slow."

      In defense of Nurx, most customer reviews of any company on the BBB page are negative, and the brand is responding to and trying to resolve the majority of the complaints which is a good sign.

      Stay up-to-date on our research reviews

      Conclusion

      Nurx may be a good online healthcare option for patients with health insurance, because many of the medications they sell are available at no cost for insured patients. Some medications require a monthly fee and initial consultation with a doctor.

      For patients without health insurance, we recommend Cost Plus Drugs over Nurx, because the retail price of every drug we randomly selected was cheaper on Cost Plus Drugs.

      For consumers seeking OTC tests or drugs, we recommend checking Amazon before Nurx, as Amazon seems to have better prices on OTC medications.

      The New York Times published an exposé about Nurx which detailed some concerning allegations, including that at one point the company was storing birth control medication in the pockets of a shoe organizer in a closet.




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