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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Friday, Mar. 6, 2020 6 months ago

Land of infusion: Health care entrepreneurs explore new territory

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Cutting-edge medical treatment moves out of the hospital and into private clinics, even homes.

Traditionally available primarily in hospitals, infusion therapy has moved into outpatient clinics and even private homes as health insurance providers seek alternative, lower-cost options for their customers. At the same time, the FDA has grown its pipeline of approved infusion drugs, making it easier for patients to get the help they need.

Accordingly, demand for the treatment — which can battle a wide range of autoimmune conditions ranging from cancer and multiple sclerosis to less severe maladies like asthma and Crohn’s disease — is also on the rise.

Health care startup Sage Infusion has taken advantage of the trend by opening what it says is the first independently owned boutique infusion center in Tampa. Located at 4728 N. Habana Ave., near St. Joseph’s Hospital, it opened for business in early December and is owned and operated by co-founders Shayan Manzar and Matthew Clements, both veterans of CVS Health.

Manzar worked in the pharmacy innovation group at CVS, and Clements was on the real estate and finance side. They financed Sage Infusion via a SBA loan serviced by Synovus Bank, Manzar, the firm’s CEO, tells Coffee Talk. (Clements is the CFO.)

“Matt moved to Tampa in 2018 because he has family in the area, and then I followed because of the business,” Manzar says. “We were looking at different markets and thought the Tampa Bay market was a good place for starting a new company. The need is here.”

Sage Infusion treats 10-20 patients per week, Manzar says. Amenities include semi-private rooms, beverages, free Wi-Fi, access to iPads, luxury recliners and noise-canceling headphones. Patients can also choose to receive their infusion treatments in a lounge area if they want to socialize with other customers.

“We are looking to elevate the expectations of patients receiving infusion care,” Manzar adds. “The cost of infusions is too high, and patients do not feel that they have options. Our patients look forward to seeing us again.”

The company is looking for office space in St. Petersburg area and expect to open a second Sage Infusion location on that side of the bay within the next three to four months, Manzar says. 

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