CEOCFO: Mr. Bollinger, what is the concept behind Rinovum® Women’s Health?
Mr. Bollinger: The concept is pretty basic. One in every six couples are having a difficult time conceiving. Thus, infertility is not only a big market place, but a serious need. Today, there is a significant gap between natural intercourse and more aggressive treatments like intrauterine insemination and in vitro fertilization. Rinovum’s mantra, that drives us, is to supply greater access for consumers with proven physician-based care. If we could take proven medical approaches that have been performed in a doctor’s office since the 1950s and now make them “user friendly enough” so that couples can now do it in the privacy of their own home, would that not be a wonderful opportunity to help this population. We developed a nice option to bridge the gap in infertility. That is where the product “The Stork® OTC” came to life.
CEOCFO: What is The Stork OTC?
Mr. Bollinger: The Stork OTC is an over the counter cervical cap insemination device that is condom-like in collection and tampon-like in delivery and removal, that actually puts a high concentration of sperm next to the cervix to get the sperm closer on the path to conception. We help people get pregnant.
CEOCFO: How is this approach being used by the medical community? How have you made it user friendly enough that women can do it on their own?
Mr. Bollinger: Historically, assisted reproduction has always been done by doctors. Even today, in the most advanced procedures of in vitro fertilization, all doctors are doing are putting the egg and sperm closer together. In vitro; they do this outside the body, put the sperm and egg together, and then place them past the cervix. With intrauterine insemination, they put the sperm directly into the cervix. With cervical cap insemination, they put it outside the cervix to allow the sperm to swim in. These are all the mechanical modalities that assist in reproduction that are available today.
Rinovum said, “Let us go back to how a doctor would do it.” A male and female would come into a doctor’s office. A male would produce a sample into a round flexible cap (imagine, something similar in size to half of a racquet ball). The doctor would then place this through the vaginal tract to just in front of the woman’s cervix, that has a shape similar to half of a golf ball, so the two mated nicely. This would be left within the female as she stayed in the doctor’s office for six hours. After six hours, the doctor would go back in, re-speculum the patient and remove the cap. The couple would have about a ten to twenty percent success rate, just like IUI (intrauterine insemination). As you may or may not be aware, even IVF today only gives you between a fifteen and thirty-five percent success rate. It can range between twenty and thirty-five thousand dollars per attempt.
CEOCFO: How does The Stork® OTC work?
Mr. Bollinger: Just like cervical cap insemination performed in the doctor’s office, but in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, when this was prominent, the tools and basic knowledge that were available to couples today, were not available. Let me give you an example, I graduated from high school in 1983 when condoms were behind the counter. By the time I graduated from college in 1987 condoms went from behind the counter to in front of the counter, and condoms where no longer just for contraception, but as a sexually transmitted disease barrier. Today condoms are very well understood by most of the population. It is a three hundred million plus business. Men and women are taught about proper use of them in schools (sex ed). Every pharmacy and grocery store has a three to four-foot section of shelving covering condoms. Today, men know of or understand how to use condoms.
On the female side there are tampons. My wife is fifty-three and tampons began in the 1970’s, they were a nightmare! People had multiple complications like toxic shock syndrome (TSS), etc. People were dying, there were infections. It was a mess! Today with the evolution of tampons, they are well accepted and come in many varieties, paper or plastic and multicolored. Therefore, today women are comfortable with tampons in placement and removal and men are comfortable with condoms. So, what Rinovum had said is, “Okay; since our educated couples today know how to use these tools, what if we integrated the cervical cap insemination technology into similar tools that couples are already familiar with and now, in the privacy of their own home? They can get similar success rates that they had in a doctor’s office in private. It went from thousands of dollars for a procedure, to now seventy-nine dollars per attempt.
CEOCFO: How long has The Stork® OTC been available? Where is it available?
Mr. Bollinger: The Stork OTC has been available for just about a year, over-the-counter in the United States. It is currently in CVS in the U.S and on-line at multiple retailers as well as www.storkotc.com. The product is available for sale as The Stork in the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada.
CEOCFO: Do you foresee a time when doctors might recommend The Stork® OTC?
Mr. Bollinger: The time is actually today. What is challenging is that only fourteen of the fifty states do partial reimbursement for assistant reproduction. This has become an out of pocket expense for many couples and this has become a rich persons’ sport. Therefore, even if you want assisted preproduction and you spend it, you are spending between one and five thousand dollars per attempt for IUI. Then you are spending either, again, fifteen to thirty-five thousand dollars per attempt for IVF. How many people in their early twenties and thirties have that kind of liquid capital to be spent on this path to conception? There is a huge population that cannot use those tools. Also, the waiting period is another big thing. What we find is these couples are finding the information online and then they go to our website. They either purchase it there or go on to the retailers where it is available today.
CEOCFO: Have social media organizations found Rinovum?
Mr. Bollinger: They have. There are bloggers, success stories, and so many venues that talk about The Stork OTC today…In fact, my wife and I went through this same problem, prior the creation of The Stork OTC. It is a very stressful situation. It is hard go to work every day. It is hard to make love when you are on a clock. It just becomes compounding stress, compounding anxiety, which also affects your ability to conceive. When you put all of that together this is just a nice mechanical way of nudging nature; getting the sperm closer to the cervix, bypassing the unfavorable vaginal track, optimizing those low sperm count males out there, which is a huge population, and getting them where they want to be. They want to conceive. This is where doctors agree as well. The OBGYNs like The Stork OTC, because it helps these couples in those early stages where they cannot really intervene. The endocrinologists or fertility specialists have patients that cannot participate with their techniques because of religious reasons or financial reasons. Therefore, this is a viable option for many of those couples.
CEOCFO: Is there any push back or skepticism? Do you see differences country by country?
Mr. Bollinger: Of course, but the interesting thing is, as you can see, it is simple, we are not trying to preach utopia. This is not the Holy Grail. We are just a mechanical aid on the path to conception. We try not to oversell the technology; it is what it is.
Also, some males have not used condoms in a while and when they use our device with the condom and say, “I do not like to use a condom anymore.” Well, this is not for pleasure anymore, gentlemen. This is for conception. Other than that, The Stork OTC has been well received and well accepted by the populations. By country, religion does have a positive impact. In countries where, Catholicism, Judaism, Sikh, Muslim are high in their population, they face challenges with participating with intrauterine insemination or in vitro fertilization. The Stork OTC is a great option for those couples out there as well…. It presents a fantastic, viable option that they did not have before. It is similar to the evolution of ovulation predictor kits. All of these are just tools to try to assist people on the path to conception.
CEOCFO: Why is Rinovum® Women’s Health an exceptional company? Why is The Stork® OTC an exceptional product?
Mr. Bollinger: Basically, we are helping people that healthcare and health systems are unable to address. We present an option that has never been available, that is greatly needed. We are bridging the gap between natural intercourse and these more aggressive treatments like IUI and IVF, because everyone should have a chance to build their family naturally.
For full interview conducted by: Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine visit, http://www.ceocfointerviews.com/interviews/Rinovum15.htm.