- Cerebral will stop prescribing most controlled substances, CEO Kyle Robertson told staff on Monday.
- It will stop prescribing potentially addictive drugs to new patients with conditions such as anxiety and ADHD on May 20.
- Existing patients using controlled substances will be phased out or sent away by email.
Cerebral, a $4.8 billion mental health startup, just announced a major change at its company as it faces increasing scrutiny from federal researchers over how it prescribes controlled substances.
In an email to staff Monday night, Cerebral CEO Kyle Robertson said the company’s clinicians will stop prescribing most controlled substances to new patients from May 20 and to existing patients from October 15. Controlled substances such as the benzodiazepine Xanax and the stimulant Adderall are classified as such. because of the risks associated with prescribing, such as the potential for addiction.
“We want to assure you that we have confidence in the future of the company. While we will no longer provide care using controlled drugs, we will continue to provide a holistic approach to care with both behavioral and drug-based treatments (if clinically indicated) . ),’ wrote Robertson in the email Insider saw.
Cerebral did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Cerebral, backed by venture capital firms including SoftBank and Oak HC/FT, provides online medication and therapy to people with anxiety, depression, ADHD and other conditions.
The move to phase out controlled substances comes after months of increasing scrutiny from the federal government, newsrooms and pharmacies over its prescribing practices.
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, federal law prohibited clinicians from prescribing such highly regulated drugs to patients without an in-person appointment. Only a handful of companies took advantage of relaxed rules for prescribing controlled substances online during the public health crisis.
In the email, Robertson said Cerebral began prescribing controlled substances in 2020 at the height of the pandemic, when people couldn’t access the personal care needed to get those drugs. It is now making the change because of the opportunity for patients to return to a personal or hybrid model of care, he said.
Cerebral previously said it would stop prescribing controlled substances such as the stimulant Adderall for new patients with ADHD from May, The Wall Street Journal reported. According to The Journal, national pharmacy chains had expressed concern that clinicians from Cerebral and another company are over-prescribing stimulant drugs.
Federal agencies have also taken note of Cerebral. The US Drug Enforcement Administration and the US Department of Justice are investigating the startup, Insider reported exclusively in May.
Cerebral will continue to write prescriptions for Suboxone
Robertson said patients with existing prescriptions for controlled substances to treat conditions such as ADHD and anxiety will be made aware of the upcoming changes and encouraged to visit their cerebral clinician to develop a plan to wean off their current medications. to build and start another treatment option, or to switch. of cerebral care.
However, Cerebral will continue to prescribe controlled substances to patients with opioid use disorder, due to the lack of access to such care, Robertson said. The company launched an opioid use disorder treatment program in March with Narcan and its controlled substance Suboxone.
Cerebral is making other changes to its clinical policies and marketing strategies to ensure quality of care and patient safety, Robertson said in the email.
Further, Robertson said Cerebral is recruiting more psychiatrists and psychiatric nurses, and is looking at how it pays its clinicians “to ensure all incentives align with a values-based model of care,” the email said. Cerebral largely relied on nurses to prescribe medication for patients.
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