UrSure got its start in 2013 when its co-founders, Drs. Helen Koenig and Giffin Daughtridge started an HIV prevention clinic at Philadelphia FIGHT. The clinic provided a medication called Truvada to young, gay men of color, who were at high risk of HIV infection. Truvada had recently been FDA approved for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis or PrEP, and if it the pill was taken daily, it was 99% effective at preventing HIV infection.
The clinic grew to serve over 200 individuals, but within the first two years, several patients became HIV positive despite picking up their PrEP routinely. Due to the drug’s effectiveness, Helen and Giffin knew that the issue must have been adherence, which was a widely reported problem with medications taken on a daily basis like PrEP.
When Helen and Giffin considered the issue of nonadherence, they identified two problems. First, as providers, they were unable to diagnose non-adherence. Self-reported adherence was very high, but actual adherence was obviously much lower. Second, their patients were not optimally motivated to take the drug. Many would say they didn’t feel any different when taking the drug, and as a result, they questioned whether it was actually protecting them. Without that peace of mind, they would stop taking it over time.
To solve these two issues, Helen and Giffin developed a lab-based urine test that could measure levels of one of the drugs in Truvada in their patient’s urine. This test allowed them to measure adherence to PrEP, and they found that both providers and patients liked receiving the data.
UrSure was then founded to make that lab-based test available to patients outside of the Philadelphia FIGHT clinic and to ultimately develop a point of care version of that test (like a pregnancy test but for PrEP adherence). Today, that original mission endures as UrSure focuses on making noninvasive, rapid tests to measure and improve adherence to medications for patients and providers worldwide.