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Exclusive: Don't sneeze at Allermi

Illustration of a bottle of nasal spray spraying the shape of a dollar sign.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Custom nasal spray at the ready, online allergy treatment startup Allermi is looking to penetrate an underserved consumer market with its first round of funding.

Why it matters: Allermi is focused on a relatively untapped segment of the direct-to-consumer arena: personalized prescription allergy treatment.

  • It's riding a wave of investor interest jumpstarted by DTC startups including Hims & Hers and Ro.

Deal details: Allermi inhaled $1.25 million in pre-seed funding led by Lucas Venture Group, CEO Shani Bocian tells Axios exclusively.

What's next: The company is gearing up to raise its seed round in the fall, says Bocian, and has plans to expand into personalized treatments for eczema.

Context: While DTC startups for sexual health, dermatology and hair loss have dominated the digital pharmacy landscape, fewer companies have homed in on prescription allergy treatments — with some notable exceptions. For example:

  • Hybrid care company Thirty Madison, which in February acquired women's telehealth startup Nurx, offers personalized treatments for allergies, hair loss, migraines and digestive issues.
  • Telehealth company Hims & Hers, which SPAC'ed its way to the public markets last year at a $1.6 billion valuation, sells some allergy treatments through its primary care vertical.

The backstory: A lifelong allergy sufferer, Bocian started the company with her father Robert Bocian, an allergist and adjunct clinical associate professor of pediatrics in immunology and allergy at Stanford.

  • "My dad would bring home a custom treatment protocol for me every month that would quell my symptoms," Bocian says, recalling that patients began calling his sprays "Bocian’s potion."
  • "So when digital health companies started booming, I said, let’s take your solution and make it available across the country," she adds.

How it works: Users fill out an online medical questionnaire and detail their symptoms, and an allergist designs their nasal spray.

  • Thanks to Allermi's partnership with Alberton's, which provides access to a compounding pharmacy, each spray contains between two and four active ingredients.
  • Similar to other digital pharmacies, Allermi only accepts cash, and its treatments cost $45 per month.
  • Robert Bocian says the company is also working on materials to help coach people in the proper technique to use its spray. "We’re very proud this isn’t a cookie-cutter approach," he says.

Yes, but: San Francisco-based Allermi is only available to California residents for now, though Bocian says it is working on getting licensed in five more states.

What they're saying: Lucas Venture Group general partner Sarah Lucas sees opportunity for Allermi to become what she describes as a gold standard in allergy treatment.

  • "This isn’t rocket science. It’s very basic," says Lucas. "They have a treatment they know works, so it’s about getting it to the right people and getting them what they need to use it correctly."
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