The Big Business of Expired Pharmaceutical Patents

In the summer of 2016, Andrew Dudum learned that the patent on one of the most profitable drugs in history was set to expire the following year. At the same time, many states were loosening telemedicine laws, allowing doctors to prescribe pharmaceuticals online.

By the end of 2017, the telehealth sector would account for $21B in revenue. The market is expected to grow to more than $93B by 2026. To Dudum, those changes signaled blockbuster potential.

Dudum — best known for founding Atomic, a startup incubator backed by tech titans Peter Thiel and Marc Andreessen — had his concept ready 14 months later. In November 2017, he launched the direct-to-consumer men’s health business, Hims, to sell prescription erectile dysfunction pharmaceuticals online.