Preventx in talks to continue expansion in Europe


Preventx, the Synova-backed online sexual health testing services provider, is set to expand its services into Spain, with further plan in place to enter the markets in Belgium and Germany, HealthInvestor UK can reveal.

Expansion into other regions is also on the table, chief executive  Ruth Poole, says. “Working across more European countries is definitely in our sights and there’s a lot of interest in going beyond Europe. Preventx is looking at some of the larger markets which one would think are mature markets, but in reality, they’re not,” Poole says adding that future expansion will be a blend of organic country entry and M&A.

She explains that public-funded sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing programs in Europe don’t exist in the same way as in the UK. Hence, Preventx runs its STI international exchange (STIIX) programme, a forum that connects international experts from the field of STI testing, treatment and research to share information and best-practice.

The forum has shown a growing interest in online because there’s a large disease burden, Poole says. With the majority of people, either having to get to a gynaecologist to get an STI screen, or paying out-of-pocket, Preventx conversations in Europe are about giving the option to have the testing online through public-funded STI programmes.

In Europe, Preventx operates in the Netherlands and Spain already. As reported by HealthInvestor UK, the group acquired the Spanish STI clinic Open House and Dutch company Soapoli Online (SPO) in July 2021.

In the UK Preventx partners with the NHS to deliver services in over 70 local authorities through its technology platform with over 1.5 million tests being completed per year. The group is a key partner with the London Sexual Health Programme, a partnership of 31 London local authorities working to increase access to sexual health services. Poole says it is the largest of its type anywhere in the world and “an incredible service” that has had “an enormously positive impact” on the sexual health of Londoners.

From a growth perspective, Poole expects the Preventx group’s revenue will continue to grow in the next year. In the year ending September 2021, Companies House filings have Preventx UK division’s revenue at £19 million, roughly 55% up from the previous year.

For the Preventx group as a whole, including its European services, revenue increased by 32% between 31st March 2021 and 31st March 2022.

“The opening up of online services and enabling people who had symptoms to come and test online was a significant driver of Preventx’s growth. Besides, Covid-19 sort of normalised home testing and taking responsibility for our own health,” she adds.

“And there are certain parts of the population, particularly in the trans community, where people find face-to-face consultation really challenging. With online consultation, they’re much more in control of what’s happening and how the information is shared. Preventx saw a 90% increase in its trans population testing online, in 2021.”

Overall, since its launch in 2009, Preventx has delivered four million kits to people for sexual health tests. Poole says 2 million of those have been in the last two years. Each kit delivers more than one test meaning that the company has completed approximately 10 million tests now. Preventx also offers discreet private postal laboratory sexual health tests.

For Poole, the biggest competitors are the market themselves. “The big opportunity is within geographic areas of the UK that currently have in-house provision or don’t currently have a full online offer. The big challenge, across the market, is maintaining high standards. Preventx has been working with the British Association of Sexual Health and HIV, on developing those standards and the guidelines to make sure that anybody working in the industry abides by those. Thus, we tend to see ourselves as our competitor – addressing how we become better than ourselves.”

In the last 12 months, Preventx has invested £2 million in new in-house technology and grown its technical team to five times the size. £1 million has been spent for the group’s laboratory expansion, the capacity of which has been doubled. Finally, the group has opened a new dispatch and packing operation for sending kits – a dedicated facility with automation put in place.

Date published: May 9, 2022

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