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How we built the UK’s first Viagra subscription service

Launching a new venture in 10 weeks.

We’ve got a new new member of the Well Pharmacy family: Eddie.

Last week we launched a brand new subscription service for men with erectile dysfunction. It’s the first service of its kind in the UK and we’re really proud of it.

Setting up the new service — from start to finish — took us 10 weeks. For a business of our scale, that’s pretty quick.

In this post we’ll share why we decided to build Eddie, and in the next part we’ll share how we did it.

Making it easier for men to do something about their erectile problems

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Viagra has been around for 20 years. It’s a well known, proven drug that’s changed the sex lives of millions of couples. An estimated 4–8m men in the UK have erectile dysfunction.

Up until last month in the UK, you needed a prescription to get erectile dysfunction medicine. This meant either going to your NHS GP or using a private doctor service (usually online).

However, 42% of men with erectile dysfunction do nothing about it. From our research, we think there’s two primary reasons for this:

  • Stigma: lots of men are embarrassed about the condition, and shy away from seeing their GP or picking up their prescription.
  • Inconvenience: although there are many online services providing erectile dysfunction medicines, they still require a doctor, prescription, pharmacist and lots of form filling.

1_n29mmSm8njNoiQPXhY-BoA The newly launched Viagra Connect

Because of these problems, there is a big black market in erectile dysfunction medicines — think dodgy websites and sellers in pub car parks. Many of these drugs are counterfeit, ineffective and — at worst — dangerous.

Last month Pfizer launched Viagra Connect, available from pharmacies without a prescription. The medicines regular approved this — in part — to address these problems.

The Eddie value proposition

On the back of this change, we decided to take things a step further.

Many of our competitors have launched their own ‘online Viagra Connect’ offerings. These typically take the form of a generic e-commerce platform with a healthcare questionnaire tacked on.

With Eddie, we knew that we needed an experience that was designed for the specific needs of men with erectile dysfunction. Eddie is focused on doing one thing really well, like Simba does with mattresses and Allbirds does with shoes.

Viagra becoming an over-the-counter drug has given us the ability to simplify the repeat experience. Eddie is a subscription service that takes the hassle out of getting Viagra.

1_h55mgYTchrOwP5vYOKo8vw Eddie‘s subscription model

Subscription is a model consumers are now familiar with. Everyday household items like razors, toothbrushes and toilet paper now come with a subscribe button, giving customers one less thing to think about.

We’ve now added Viagra to that growing list.

We’re not trying to ‘normalise’ ED

During the past few months we’ve spoken with lots of people who have told us something along the lines of:

There’s lots of stigma attached to erectile dysfunction.
Men are embarrassed about it and don’t want to talk about it.
Therefore, the goal of our product and marketing should be to encourage men to open up about their erectile problems.
This will ‘normalise’ the condition, removing the stigma and enabling more men to seek treatment.

We disagree. Billions have been spent on trying to change this, and we’ve not seen any evidence that it has been effective.

We didn’t build Eddie to ‘normalise’ erectile dysfunction or get men to talk about it with their mates. That’s not what we’re here for.

Our real goal is to make it easier for men to do something about their erectile problems.

We’ve done this by building a convenient, easy to use service that’s focused on the needs of men with erectile dysfunction.

In the next post we’ll go into more detail about how we did this.

How we built the UK’s first Viagra subscription service
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