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Late last year, several high-profile partnerships between big pharma companies and health tech startups fell apart — raising questions about whether culture clash and financial pressures would doom such alliances.

But in the months since, pharma’s interest in businesses trying to rethink how people get their medications has proved resilient. The latest sign of that came on Friday: Johnson & Johnson’s innovation arm will make an investment in Thirty Madison, the company offering telemedicine visits and online prescriptions for drugs for hair loss, migraines, and acid reflux.


The investment signals the acknowledgement by big incumbent players in health care of the growing influence of startups that enable online prescriptions for typically generic medications for common ailments. While big drug companies typically get paid by insurers, these startups usually don’t accept insurance and instead charge people modest out-of-pocket fees.

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