Planet Medica.com has received 12.5 million euros (US$12.7 million) in funding to launch a European health services Internet portal in the U.K., France and Germany in April, the company announced yesterday.
The network of health sites will offer free medical information in the local areas and languages of the three European countries, with plans to expand throughout Europe. "The goal is to provide specific and comprehensive health information to the layperson who doesn't want medical jargon," Planet Medica.com spokeswoman Holly Kirk said.
Primary funding comes from Internet and health care venture capital firm Atlas Venture with an initial investment of 5 million euros, as well as 7.5 million euros from private investors, Kirk said.
A team of medical industry writers will offer information on medical conditions, how to maintain good health, assessments of specific symptoms and treatment information.
"Planet Medica.com is not going to give a diagnosis, but it will help you diagnose yourself and figure out if and where to seek further medical treatment," Kirk said.
The portal will also give advice on how medical services and systems work in local areas. "We're looking to compliment services like the NHS (National Health Service) in Britain and help people make the most of those services," Kirk said.
Women between the ages of 25 to 55 are the target group for Planet Medica.com.
"Our research shows that women in that age range make most of the medical decisions not only for themselves, but for their families as a whole," Kirk said.
Revenue will come primarily from advertising sales and sponsored agreements.
Planet Medica.com also plans to offer online sales of health and beauty products sometime in the future.
Kirk asserted that pharmaceutical companies who buy advertising from Planet Medica.com will not have undue influence on the advice and recommendations given by Planet Medica.com staff. "Everything will be firmly in line with all of the many rules and regulations covering that matter," Kirk said.
The company headquarters is being established in Brussels by a team of eight partners who are all at a "high senior level of management in the health care industry," Kirk said.
"The partners are from all over Europe, so Brussels seemed a logical place to be based, especially in order to keep up with all new medical and health regulations being issued by the European Community," Kirk said.
Planet Medica.com is hoping to expand the portal Web sites to Italy, Spain and the Netherlands by the end of this year, Kirk said. The company also expects to launch an IPO (Initial Public Offering) in the first half of 2001.
Atlas Venture, in London, can be contacted at +44-171-292-0300, or http://www.atlasventure.com/.
Planet Medica.com, with headquarters in Brussels, is at http://www.planetmedica.com/. Note: URL not working yet. Can contact company through Holly Kirk at Gnash Communications in London at +44-207-243-4443.