Healthcare startups scramble to evaluate fallout after Postmeds information breach hits hundreds of thousands of sufferers


Greater than two million individuals throughout america will obtain discover that their private and delicate well being info was stolen earlier this yr throughout a cyberattack at Postmeds, the father or mother firm of on-line pharmacy startup Truepill.

For a few of these affected, it’s the primary they’re listening to of Postmeds, not to mention that the corporate misplaced their delicate private and well being info in the course of the information breach.

Information of the information breach additionally appeared to catch off-guard healthcare startups that beforehand relied on Postmeds to satisfy their clients’ prescriptions.

Postmeds, or Truepill, is a web-based pharmacy success startup that fills prescriptions for big-name telehealth companies and different pharmacies, and mails drugs to their clients. Postmeds, by Truepill, has fulfilled prescriptions for patrons of Folx, Hims, and GoodRx, and different common on-line telehealth startups which have emerged in recent times.

Even should you’ve by no means heard of Postmeds, the corporate might have crammed certainly one of your prescriptions and dealt with your info. Truepill’s web site says it has delivered 20 million prescriptions to a few million individuals since its founding in 2016.

Postmeds just lately informed federal regulators in a legally required discover that 2.3 million people had their private info stolen within the breach. The corporate started sending written notices to affected people in early November.

Knowledge breach “presents an enormous threat”

In its information breach discover, Postmeds mentioned hackers stole a trove of delicate information, together with affected person names and demographic info — comparable to dates of beginning — the kind of prescribed drugs and the prescriber’s identify. In some circumstances that info can infer the explanation for taking the medicine, which might embody an individual’s extremely delicate medical info, comparable to particulars about their psychological, sexual, and reproductive well being.

A few of those that acquired information breach notification letters informed TechCrunch that they had been unfamiliar with Postmeds and why the corporate had their info.

“Me and my companion additionally had overlapping occasions wherein we had been each sufferers with Folx, however I by no means received a letter,” a former Folx buyer, whose companion acquired a knowledge breach notification, informed TechCrunch.

Folx Well being is a telehealth firm that caters for the LGBTQIA+ group, with clinicians who can prescribe drugs that help gender-affirming care. Folx mentioned it beforehand used Truepill to satisfy buyer prescriptions.

When reached for remark by TechCrunch, Folx chief working officer Dana Clayton informed TechCrunch: “Folx terminated its relationship with Truepill in November of 2022. We’re in contact with Truepill in regards to the incident and are working to rapidly assess any potential impression to our members.”

“As soon as I received my first bundle and noticed ‘Truepill’ on the field from Folx, I noticed, admittedly late on my half, that my information had been despatched off to a company that I personally hadn’t entered a belief relationship with.” Former Folx buyer

“Like different healthcare firms, we ship prescriptions to a variety of pharmacies primarily based on member selection, medicine availability, price, and different elements. Folx takes its members’ privateness significantly and holds its companions to the strictest safety requirements,” mentioned Clayton. “Truepill’s information breach has been a matter of appreciable disappointment and concern for us, and Folx is dedicated to preserving our members knowledgeable as we be taught extra.”

The previous Folx buyer, who works in cybersecurity, informed TechCrunch that the information breach “presents an enormous threat, particularly for a group that stands to lose a lot extra by having that information compromised.”

Postmeds has not publicly commented past its information breach discover. TechCrunch requested Postmeds chief government Paul Greenall in an electronic mail to supply a listing of firms that Postmeds partnered with whose clients are affected. Greenall didn’t reply.

One other one that acquired a knowledge breach notification letter mentioned they had been prescribed a steady glucose monitor a yr or so in the past by metabolic well being startup Ranges Well being, which depends on Truepill for fulfilling its clients’ prescriptions for blood glucose displays.

When contacted by TechCrunch, Ranges wouldn’t say if its clients in america are affected by the Postmeds breach.

Kate Burton-Barlow, representing Ranges by way of a third-party company, mentioned in an electronic mail that Ranges “previously established a relationship with Truepill within the U.Okay. in anticipation of a future U.Okay. launch, however that launch has not taken place, so Ranges doesn’t have any U.Okay. clients that this might have affected.”

TechCrunch contacted a number of healthcare firms that relied on Truepill to dispense and mail drugs.

When reached for remark by TechCrunch, Hims spokesperson Khobi Brooklyn didn’t dispute that buyer information was affected by the breach involving Truepill. The spokesperson wouldn’t say what number of Hims clients are affected, however famous that not all of Hims clients had their prescriptions crammed by Truepill.

“Buyer care and information safety are prime priorities at Hims & Hers, we’ve invested closely in each, and we’re happy with our document. Whereas this wasn’t a breach of our programs or information, it’s a reminder to proceed to remain vigilant across the steps we take to safeguard our clients,” Brooklyn mentioned in a press release.

Telehealth startup Cerebral, which supplies telehealth companies and prescription drugs for psychological well being situations, informed TechCrunch that it has not had a enterprise relationship or shared affected person info with Truepill since 2022. “So far, we’ve got not seen any notification of a breach and we’ve got no purpose to imagine that any Cerebral affected person’s [protected health information] has been impermissibly disclosed or accessed,” Cerebral spokesperson Brittney Henderson mentioned in an electronic mail. (Cerebral individually disclosed earlier this yr that it had shared hundreds of thousands of sufferers’ information with advertisers for a number of years.)

A number of different pharmacies who labored with Truepill didn’t remark when contacted by TechCrunch previous to publication.

CostPlus, the lower-cost on-line pharmacy based by Mark Cuban, which depends on Truepill for transport drugs to clients, didn’t reply to requests for remark. Cuban invested an undisclosed quantity in Truepill earlier in 2023.

Healthcare and prescription coupon big GoodRx depends on Truepill as its mail supply companion. GoodRx spokesperson Lauren Casparis didn’t reply to requests for remark.

TechCrunch discovered that Nutrisense, a tech startup that supplies steady glucose displays by prescription, makes use of Truepill to satisfy some orders. Nutrisense chief government Alex Skryl didn’t reply to an electronic mail requesting remark.

The HIPAA connection

It’s not unusual for tech or healthcare firms to share affected person information with different firms, comparable to third-party or specialty pharmacies, to satisfy their companies.

U.S. healthcare suppliers, like medical doctors places of work and pharmacies, and insurance coverage firms are topic to the well being privateness and safety guidelines set out within the Well being Insurance coverage Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, which partly governs how healthcare suppliers ought to correctly handle affected person information safety and privateness. Falling foul of HIPAA can lead to heavy fines.

However quite a lot of telehealth startups aren’t thought-about “coated entities” below HIPAA, and HIPAA typically doesn’t apply, as a result of the startups themselves don’t present care, fairly they join sufferers with healthcare suppliers.

As Shopper Experiences notes, HIPAA “does lay out privateness guidelines for well being care suppliers and insurance coverage firms to comply with once they deal with personally identifiable medical information,” however the identical piece of data protected at a health care provider’s workplace “could be completely unregulated in different settings.”

Each Hims and Cerebral observe of their privateness insurance policies that whereas state privateness legal guidelines might apply, HIPAA “doesn’t essentially apply to an entity or individual just because there may be well being info concerned.” Firms saying they’re “HIPAA compliant” can imply that HIPAA doesn’t apply to them.

The U.S. doesn’t have a nationwide information safety or privateness legislation, and as an alternative depends on a patchwork of state legal guidelines that modify state-by-state. Most Individuals reside in states which have little to no protections towards the sharing of an individual’s info.

As an alternative, firms normally spell out how they deal with buyer or affected person information of their privateness coverage, however aren’t obligated to reveal which particular firms they work with.

The 2 individuals, who acquired information breach notification letters from Postmeds and spoke with us for this story, each criticized the businesses who issued their prescriptions for missing transparency about who their enterprise companions are and which of these companions would obtain their delicate private info.

“As soon as I received my first bundle and noticed ‘Truepill’ on the field from Folx, I noticed, admittedly late on my half, that my information had been despatched off to a company that I personally hadn’t entered a belief relationship with,” the previous Folx person informed TechCrunch.

A number of threads on Reddit have feedback from individuals who acquired information breach notifications from Postmeds, however aren’t positive which firm provided Postmeds with their info.

“I simply received this letter and I do not know which physician this is able to even be by,” mentioned one individual. “Additionally acquired this letter. No data of the corporate,” mentioned one other.

The breach is the newest incident to befall the embattled Truepill.

Truepill underwent a number of rounds of layoffs in 2022, together with giant swaths of its product crew and all of its U.Okay. workers. In September, Truepill co-founder Sid Viswanathan was pushed out of the corporate.

Earlier this month, Truepill settled with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration claims that it illegally disbursed 1000’s of prescriptions for managed substances, wherein Truepill “accepted duty for working an unregistered on-line pharmacy.”

Do you’re employed at a healthcare group that’s affected by the Postmeds/Truepill breach? You’ll be able to contact Zack Whittaker on Sign and WhatsApp at +1 646-755-8849 or by electronic mail; you can even contact Carly Web page securely on Sign at +441536 853968 or by electronic mail. You can too contact TechCrunch by way of SecureDrop.


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