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Stride Nutrition is a subscription service for vitamins and supplements from smart pill bottle maker Pillsy. (GeekWire Photo / James Thorne)

Pillsy has launched a subscription service that works alongside the Seattle-based startup’s smart pill bottles, reminding users to take their supplements and automatically ordering refills on their behalf when it detects they are running low.

The new service, dubbed Stride Nutrition, is both a modest swipe at the $133 billion global supplements industry and a pilot program to combine drug subscriptions with hardware-as-a-service. Each supplement subscription comes with one of Pillsy’s smart pill bottles.

Multivitamins, probiotics, sleep aids and Omega-3 supplements are available immediately as part of the subscription service. Stride, a Pillsy subsidiary, will also offer supplements to help with focusing and prenatal health in the near future. Prices range from $0.30 to $0.70 per pill depending on the supplement.

If you’re a subscriber, ordering through Stride offers a few perks over monthly or quarterly refills.

  • You get a smart pill bottle.
  • You won’t get a refill unless you’re running low.
  • You’re more likely to take vitamins regularly since both the bottle and Pillsy’s app will nudge you with beeps and alerts.
The Pillsy cap tracks how many pills subscribers have left by sensing each time the pill bottle is opened. (GeekWire Photo / James Thorne)

“Amazon did the Dash button, where you press a button to refill something. This is sort of an evolution of that, but you don’t have to press a button or actively do anything to trigger the refill,” said Pillsy co-founder Otto Sipe.

In addition to the physical Amazon Dash buttons, the tech giant also offers automatic sensing and reordering of products such as printer ink and popcorn through its Amazon Dash Replenishment service.

Amazon, which acquired online pharmacy PillPack for nearly $1 billion in June 2018, has yet to reveal its plans for selling medications online. In the meantime, Pillsy must also contend with other smart pill bottle startups, including AdhereTech and SMRxT.

Somewhere between $100 and $300 billion of health care costs are the result of people not taking their medicine, up to a tenth of total U.S. health care costs. Pillsy’s goal is to chip away at this problem by combining smart hardware with a subscription model. By starting with supplements, the company can test the service without the obvious risks associated with prescription drug subscriptions.

“No one’s going to die if they forget their Omega-3s,” Sipe said.

Pillsy was founded in 2015 by entrepreneur Jeff LeBrun, former Nokia and IBM engineer Chuks Onwuneme, and former Microsoft engineer Otto Sipe. The company launched its signature smart pill bottle in May 2017, after developing the idea at the 500 Startups and HAX Growth Accelerator programs in San Francisco. Pillsy has six full-time employees and 10 part-time consultants.

The Pillsy app attempts to apply behavioral health research in order to make it easier for patients to adhere to a medication schedule. The app tells users when they’ve forgotten to take a dose, and caregivers can be given access to the data in order to keep tabs on their loved ones.

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