Ro’s men’s division Roman and Pfizer subsidiary Greenstone have struck a deal that will allow the digital health company to buy all the generic Viagra (or sildenafil citrate) it sells directly from Pfizer. Pfizer currently has the only FDA-cleared authorized generic on the market. The aim is to ensure quality control and supply chain transparency for Roman’s customers.
While Ro has launched multiple new digital health services in recent years, including the Rory vertical that focuses on women’s health, the initial focus was on men’s health issues, particularly ED. Like many of its competitors such as Hims & Hers, Roman has an online clinic and pharmacy dedicated to discreetly shipping treatments directly to its customers.
Why is the partnership with Pfizer important? It comes down to a matter of trust and transparency, Ro CEO Zachariah Reitano told me Fortune.
“Normally, all drugs with the same active ingredients are perfectly interchangeable,” he said. “I compare it to buying coffee. You can buy coffee in two different places. All coffee contains caffeine. But making that cup of coffee involves so many things that go into the quality of that product and that experience.”
In other words, while sildenafil, the central active ingredient in Viagra, may be present in what many of these telehealth companies ship to their customers, the inactive ingredients and the actual manufacturing process may differ significantly. It can also be difficult to track exactly where a consumer’s ED drugs are made.
According to Reitano, the Pfizer partnership should give users of Roman some certainty in that area.
“By bringing transparency to this process, we empower consumers to show what matters to them,” he said. “We’re also showing manufacturers that this matters.”
The exclusive supply agreement also comes as telehealth companies come under scrutiny from some in the medical community for selling drugs directly to consumers.
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