Outsourcing the Adderall hunt

For $50 a prescription, a freelancer overseas will call pharmacies in your area to find Adderall and weight loss drugs like Mounjaro or WeGovy.
Outsourcing the Adderall hunt
Photo by Haley Lawrence / Unsplash

If you’re having trouble finding a pharmacy that will refill your Adderall prescription because of ongoing shortages of the drug in the United States, you can pay a company called Insito Health $50 to outsource the frustrating, time consuming task of calling all the pharmacies in your area to a freelance worker in the Philippines or another country where labor is cheaper. 

Peter Daggett, Insito Health co-founder and CEO, and Parth Shah, co-founder and CTO, told me that they both have ADHD and that the idea for the company started when they were having trouble finding Adderall themselves. 

“I said to Parth, practically as a joke, that I'd probably pay somebody 100 bucks if they could find it for me,” Daggett told me on a call. “Then it was like, well, maybe other people might feel the same. So we ran a little bit of a test, and it turns out there were lots of people that wanted someone else to find their medications for them.”

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Insito Health’s service, Insito Medfinder, launched in January, and since then has helped “a few thousand people overall,” Daggett said. Customers can pay $50 to find one medicine, $120 for three, or $180 for six. The service is not covered by insurance. Insito Medfinder initially launched by partnering with a few doctors who would offer the service to patients, but are now a direct to consumer business. Dagget said that today most of its business is coming from customers who are trying to find stimulants like Adderall and GLP-1 or semaglutide type weight loss drugs like Mounjaro, WeGovy, and Zepbound (commonly known as the Ozempic brand when sold to manage type 2 diabetes).

To help customers, Insito Medfinder hires people overseas via the freelancing platform Upwork. Shah and Daggett didn’t specify what countries specifically they hire in, but said that they don’t hire workers in the United States, and I found two Insito Medfinder “virtual assistants” on Linkedin who live in the Philippines. Both people had work experience in the medical field: one said she’s a registered pharmacist and the other a registered medical technologist. Daggett and Shah told me that they don’t require medical experience, but that a lot of the people they hire have it. Instead, the people who make calls on behalf of customers receive training from Insito Health, including training that makes sure they are HIPPA compliant. 

It appears to work. On Trustpilot, Insito Medfinder has 127 reviews with an average of 4.9 out of 5 stars.

“I wish I could give this company more stars! I have been trying to find a specific medication for 2 months and they literally found it in 2 days,” one reviewer said. “I highly recommend using them. I will be using them again.”

To state the obvious: Insito Health is not doing anything evil here. It is just supplying a service for a demand in the market. But the demand in the market is a reflection of fundamental problems with our healthcare system and drug supply chain which can wreck the lives of people who can’t get the medicines they need, and it’s this state of desperation that makes a service like Insito Health a viable business. If enough people use services like Insito, it may also lead to a system where people who don’t or can’t afford to outsource their medicine search will have even more trouble finding the medications they need. 

The U.S. has experienced an adderall shortage in recent years, as well as a semaglutide shortage in part fueled by celebrity endorsements, making people compete for drugs prescribed to them by their doctors. A service like Insito Health gives some people a competitive edge, for a price. 

“I say it all the time: in a lot of ways, it's unfortunate that a business like ours even has to exist,” Dagget told me. “We don't have all the answers on how to solve drug supply chains. We're just happy that we're able to help as many people as we possibly can get the medications that they need. In a lot of ways, we wish that these problems didn't exist. It's not something that should exist. I think it's just the nature of our healthcare system at this point.”

Monetizing the terrible state of the American healthcare system by providing an extra, concierge layer between the patient and the system, is nothing new. Last year, Amazon acquired One Medical, a membership-based service designed to ease a lot of the frustration around finding and using a primary care provider, for $3.9 billion

“It's absolutely a concierge, hospitality level experience type business,” Dagett said of Insito Health. “That's one of the major things that most healthcare is missing, and it's something that we strive really hard to ensure that every single one of our customers feels like we are actually caring about them and are taking the absolute best care of them.”