Digital mental health tech company Cerebral won’t prescribe Adderall and Ritalin to new patients amid a recent flurry of criticism of its prescribing practices, the company said Wednesday.
New patients from Monday, May 9, onward won’t be able to receive Ritalin or Adderall, which are primarily used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The policy change won’t affect existing patients, Cerebral said Wednesday. The company will continue to prescribe other controlled substances.
The company’s ADHD medication policy sparked a lawsuit last week. Former Cerebral vice president of product and engineering, Matthew Truebe, alleged the company put profits before patient safety. In the lawsuit, he alleges Cerebral planned to increase customer retention by prescribing stimulants for ADHD to 100% of its patients and encouraged clinicians to prescribe medication. Truebe alleged that he was fired for speaking out about the practice.
A Cerebral spokesperson denied the allegations. Cerebral CEO Kyle Robertson said in a blog post that the company has never reprimanded anyone for not writing prescriptions.
Business Insider reported the Drug Enforcement Agency was investigating the company and speaking with former employees. A Cerebral spokesperson said, "We don’t speak for the DEA but are unaware of anything other than normal course interactions in the ordinary course of our business."
Separately, The Wall Street Journal reported national pharmacy chains are probing the prescription practices at Cerebral and another company, Done Health. The story alleged CVS Health, Walmart and Walgreens reportedly blocked and delayed some Cerebral and Done Health prescriptions due to Adderall over-prescribing concerns. Online pharmacy, TruePill, confirmed that it paused Adderall and other controlled substances prescription fulfillment.
Cerebral and Done Health both disputed the report and said that delays in prescription are happening for administrative reasons involving insurance companies and availability of medicine. During the public health emergency, the Drug Enforcement Agency waived prior in-person evaluation requirements for controlled substance prescriptions via telehealth.
Cerebral said a clinical review committee will review all its paid social advertisements, after social media sites removed its ads for violating body-image shaming rules. The company’s ad claimed that obesity is “five times more prevalent” among adults with ADHD.
Cerebral also named its current chief medical officer Dr. David Mou as the company’s new president, citing a commitment to “clinical quality, patient safety and compliance.” It also hired Jacqueline Kniska as head of compliance. Kniska joins Cerebral from Virginia Commonwealth University where she served as chief ethics and compliance officer.
Cerebral was founded in 2019 by Kyle Robertson and chief medical officer Dr. Ho Anh. It has received $462 million in funding since its launch and is valued at nearly $5 billion. In December, it raised $300 million in a Series C round led by Softbank Vision.
Cerebral faces another lawsuit from a former contracted clinician who alleges the company violated California labor code laws, including failing to properly pay overtime and reimburse for business-related expenses. A company spokesperson declined to disclose the breakdown between contractors and full-time employees.