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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Cooler Heads Sees Amma Sales Heat Up

MEDTECH: McKessen Deal, $8M Seed Highlight 1st Commercial Year

In just one year on the market, sales of Cooler Heads’ scalp cooling system are heating up.

The company’s flagship product Amma, a portable patient-administered scalp cooling device to help cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy keep their hair, is now available in more than 20 cancer centers in the U.S. Cooler Heads also recently landed an agreement with leading healthcare company McKessen to distribute Amma to its oncology customers.

Kate Dilligan
Founder & CEO
Cooler Heads

“Medicare started reimbursing for scalp cooling last year, so we developed a business model where scalp cooling is profitable for infusion centers and patients are largely seeing it covered by insurance,” said Cooler Heads CEO Kate Dilligan, adding that in addition to Medicare reimbursement, growth at Cooler Heads is also the result of the rise of patient-centered care.

“What our customers are saying – and what the healthcare systems that are about to become our customers are saying – is patients are asking them, ‘Do you offer this?’” she said.” Patients are savvy and they are choosing providers that are treating them as a whole person and not just the disease. Side effect management is a huge component of that and a discriminator for patients.”

Patient-Driven Product

Dilligan’s insight into what patients want and need from providers is born from her own experience with cancer.

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In 2016, Dilligan was diagnosed with stage 2b breast cancer and saw a “disconnect” between the “outstanding” care she received from her team treating the disease and the care available for recovering from her treatment’s side effects. At the time, the only broadly available method to prevent hair loss from chemotherapy was to use a gel cap cooled in dry ice which is taken on and off the head every 20 to 30 minutes. Traditional scalp cooling systems also tied patients to a chair for hours, on top of the time spent for the actual chemo infusion.

“If you’re running an infusion center, then you’re giving up the opportunity to sit another patient down,” Dilligan said. “An infusion center needs something that isn’t going to screw up their patient workload.”

Deborah Lindquist, M.D.
Northern Arizona Medical Group

Dilligan personally spent $8,000 to keep her hair and the experience led her to found Cooler Heads and develop Amma, which is now providing patients with the scalp cooling experience she wanted while treating her own cancer.

Deborah Lindquist, M.D. of Northern Arizona Medical Group, an early Amma provider, said her first patient to use Amma “had no hair loss and found it extremely easy to use. In addition, it was simple enough that she could use her time doing other things related to her work while having chemotherapy.”

Nicole Centers, executive director of Wellstar Health System’s oncology service line, said Wellstar chose Amma over other scalp cooling systems because it was an “affordable solution” for patients and its “new technology made it easy for us to adopt.”

Nicole Centers
Executive Director Oncology Service Line
Wellstar Health System

Seed Equity Round to Fund Scale Up

To meet the surging demand for Amma, Cooler Heads is planning to scale up its manufacturing, “taking advantage of cross border opportunities for partnerships for sub assembly production,” Dilligan said, adding that the company’s contract manufacturer will remain in San Diego.

To fund the scale up of production, Cooler heads recently closed an $8 million seed equity from leading venture capital funds including Crescent Ridge Partners, Aloft VC, Robin Hood Ventures, HIP, Teal Ventures, Gaingels and NuFund Venture Group.

In addition to investing in the scale up of Amma, NuFund Fund Manager Dean Rosenberg points to future opportunities for growth at Cooler Heads

“I see scalp  cooling as only the beginning for  Cooler  Heads,” he said.  “Users of the product will configure and operate the device through a mobile app, connect with  other users, and ultimately  benefit from a community of people, products, and services to minimize the lifestyle impact from  their  cancer treatment.”

Dilligan said the long-term goal for Cooler Heads is to have a suite of products in side effects management and a digital platform that provides patients with information to help them be healthier.

“There’s not a cancer isle at Target or Walgreens, so you’re spending all this money buying all this stuff and have no idea what’s counter indicated and what’s actually going to work,” she said. “We’re not curing the disease; we’re making the treatment and the aftermath more bearable.”

Cooler Heads

Founded: 2018
CEO: Kate Dilligan
Headquarters: San Diego
Business: Manufacturer of scalp cooling device to prevent hair loss in cancer patients
Employees: 9
Notable: Cooler Heads is a 2023 CONNECT Cool Company and was a finalist at MedTech Innovator 2021.


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