Archive

ShareThis Page
Monroeville startup rolls out Stork to help with conception at home | TribLIVE.com
Local Stories

Monroeville startup rolls out Stork to help with conception at home

PTRRINOVUM1081815
Heidi Murrin | Trib Total Media
Stephen Bollinger is founder and CEO of Rinovum Women's Health in Monroeville.
PTRRINOVUM2081815
Heidi Murrin | Trib Total Media
Rinovum Women's Health in Monroeville manufatures The Stork, an at-home conception aid.
PTRRINOVUM5081815
Heidi Murrin | Trib Total Media
Founder and CEO Stephen Bollinger talks about The Stork, an at-home conception aid, at the Rinovum Women's Health business in Monroeville Tuesday, July 21, 2015.

Stephen Bollinger had a simple idea for a company: Make it easier and less costly for couples struggling with infertility to conceive at home.

The concept has spawned a growing business, Rinovum Women’s Health. The Monroeville company’s first product, the Stork, received clearance from the Food and Drug Administration last year for over-the-counter sales and is available in about 3,000 CVS pharmacies.

The device, which helps women increase the odds of pregnancy by delivering sperm to the cervix, should be on the shelves of an additional 2,000 CVS stores by early next year, and could be in another national pharmacy chain next year, Bollinger said.

“The whole idea is to simplify medical technology so it can be used in a couple’s home,” he said. “Privacy, that’s where the Stork really adds value.”

The device, which retails for $79, mimics a type of artificial insemination performed in a doctor’s office or other clinical setting that can cost hundreds of dollars.

“This is a good first step, a bridge for the patients who are having trouble getting pregnant,” said Dr. Michael Pelekanos, an obstetrician and gynecologist with East Suburban OB/GYN Associates in Monroeville.

Pelekanos is a consultant and adviser to Rinovum who is organizing clinical studies of the Stork.

“This is a stop-gap measure between a major medical investigation and just standard intercourse,” he said. “I believe this will enhance fertility.”

Infertility in the United States has nearly doubled in the past 35 years, from one-in-10 couples in 1980 having difficulty conceiving to one-in-six, or an estimated 7.3 million couples, today.

The increase, driven up by women waiting longer to have children and lower sperm counts in men, has spawned a huge industry.

The market for infertility services and devices is more than $3.5 billion and expected to reach $4.3 billion by 2018, according to research firm Marketdata. About $1.9 billion of that is spent on in vitro fertilization, a lab procedure with an average cost of $12,000.

Rinovum positions the Stork as a significantly less costly alternative, which should be tried before going to a doctor.

“But it’s not a silver bullet,” Bollinger said. “If there’s a medical problem (that prevents pregnancy), we can’t help.”

Bollinger, a Delmont native, attended the Military Academy at West Point, fought in the first Gulf War and had a career in the life sciences industry. He started and sold two companies in Massachusetts before returning to the region in 2008 to help coach startup companies at the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse.

A year later, the itch to run his own company returned, he said. “At some point, I got sick of coaching and wanted to get back to doing.”

He knew he wanted to pursue a solution to a health care problem that he could market directly to consumers and remembered the difficulty that he and his wife had trying to conceive their first child in the early 1990s. Bollinger was aware that it was an increasingly common problem.He formed Rinovum in 2009 and started developing early versions of the Stork. In 2013, it received approval from the FDA for prescription-only sales, which led to sales of “a couple thousand dollars a week,” he said.

A major turning point happened in September when the FDA cleared the Stork for over-the-counter sales. Rinovum also started selling the device in Canada and the United Kingdom.

With the addition of more pharmacies selling the Stork, Bollinger said he expects Rinovum’s revenue to grow to at least $12 million by the end of 2016, up from $800,000 in 2014 and an expected $2.4 million this year.

Rinovum is exploring how to expand sales to more countries in Europe and to Asia.

“Infertility in China is even bigger than in the U.S.,” Bollinger said.

Alex Nixon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7928 or [email protected].

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.