Ro, the parent company of Roman, the brand best known for delivering drugs for erectile dysfunction and hair loss to consumers, announced on Wednesday that it will acquire Modern Fertility, a start-up that admits fertility testing for women Home offers.
The deal is priced at more than $ 225 million, according to people with knowledge of the acquisition who spoke on condition of anonymity because the information was not public. According to an analysis by PitchBook, it is one of the largest investments in the women's health technology space, known as Femtech, which raised $ 592 million in venture capital in 2019.
Modern Fertility was founded in 2017 with its flagship product: a $ 159 fingerprint test that can estimate how many eggs a woman has left to determine which fertility method is best.
"We ran essentially the same lab tests that women would do in an infertility clinic and made them available to women at a fraction of the cost," said Afton Vechery, founder and general manager of Modern Fertility, noting that her own test was at one The clinic returned her $ 1,500.
The company now also sells a home ovulation tracking test available at Walmart, as well as standard pregnancy tests and prenatal vitamins.
Founded in 2017 with a focus on men's health and valued at around $ 5 billion in March, Ro has expanded into telehealth in recent years, including the delivery of generic drugs by mail. In December, Ro acquired Workpath, which connects patients with home care providers such as nurses.
The global digital health market, which includes telemedicine, online pharmacies and wearable devices, could reach $ 600 billion by 2024, according to consulting firm McKinsey & Company. Yet, by one estimate, only 1.4 percent of the money that goes into health care goes to the femtech industry, reflecting a pattern in the medical industry that women's health research has historically overlooked.
"Gender bias in health research methodology and funding has really contributed to sexism in medicine and healthcare," said Sonya Borrero, director of the Center for Research and Innovation in Women's Health at the University of Pittsburgh. "I think we'll see it again – the gender bias in the venture capital sector will affect exactly what is developed."
That underinvestment was part of the reasons behind the acquisition, said Zachariah Reitano, CEO of Ro. The company developed a women-centric online service called Rory in 2019.
"We will continue to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in women's health over the next five years," said Reitano, "because ultimately I think women's health has the potential to be much greater than men's."