Drkoop.com needs financial Rx

by Amit Anand | 5/5/00 5:00am

"Treating adolescent acne" and "Wake up to good sleep" are some of the topics that you might find at Drkoop.com, the website, partly owned by former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop '37 and launched to much financial and popular backing two years ago.

Now, however, the site may be close to bankruptcy, according to recent reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

"Right now, its business as usual," a public relations spokesperson at Drkoop.com told The Dartmouth.

However, recent events suggest that changes might be on the horizon for the company.

Auditors for the company warned last month that they had "substantial doubt" about its ability to stay in business because of its negative cash flow. The company followed with a statement that the site had five months of cash left to continue its operations.

The site, which was worth more than one billion dollars a few months ago, is now trading with a market value of 80 million dollars -- a decrease of more than 90 percent.

Drkoop.com also recently announced that America Online had acquired a 10 percent stake in the company, which will provide the company with extra money. However, as a result, Drkoop.com will not be promoted as heavily on the America Online network.

Even as its existence in the future seems uncertain, the Drkoop.com site is continuing to make advances. The company announced recently that its Television Partner Program -- which would help it reach 22 percent of the national television audience by providing information to television affiliates on health issues -- is continuing to expand.

However, Drkoop.com has been losing ground to various other Internet-based health sites like OnHealth.com.

A recent report by Media Metrix -- a company that tracks web usage -- indicated Drkoop.com fell from first to third spot in health site rankings some months ago.

Officials from Drkoop.com declined to comment on specific plans for the future, aside from the fact that the company is exploring strategic financing options, citing a quiet period preceding the company's quarterly earnings announcement.

Advertise your student group in The Dartmouth for free!