Digital mental health providers are now facing another challenge: CVS says it will no longer fill certain prescriptions from telehealth companies Cerebral and Done Health.
Mental health care was on the cusp of something great: providing those in need (especially in the thick of the pandemic) with help via apps and digital services specializing in therapy and psychiatry. Cerebral—a telehealth tech startup mainly treating anxiety, depression, and insomnia—is (or was) at the forefront of this movement as one of the more recognizable names in the digital mental health space. Done Health is another, specializing in the treatment of ADHD. However, these companies are hitting a snag in their business model. CVS confirmed to Gizmodo that the pharmacy chain will no longer fill prescriptions of controlled substances, like Adderall for instance, ordered by providers that work for Cerebral and Done Health.
“We are committed to making mental health services as accessible and convenient as possible,” CVS said to us in an email. CVS explained that they conducted a review of certain telehealth companies, and indicated there’s concerns about the prescription practices at both Cerebral and Done Health. “As a result of our being unable to resolve concerns we have with Cerebral and Done Health, effective May 26, 2022 CVS Pharmacy will no longer accept prescriptions for controlled substances issued through these companies.” This decision surprised Cerebral, who said they weren’t aware of this decision prior to yesterday.
“We learned on the afternoon of Tuesday, May 24 that CVS will no longer fill Cerebral’s controlled substance prescriptions, effective Thursday, May 26,” Cerebral told Gizmodo in an email. Cerebral also explained to us that the company was already implementing plans to pivot away from prescribing controlled substances: new patients would not be able to receive a prescription for a controlled substance while this policy would be rolled out to current patients in the coming months. Cerebral says that CVS’s decision compresses what was to be a gradual transition.
This isn’t the first swipe at Cerebral’s prescription practices. The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating whether the startup violated a controlled-substances law, according to a report from Insider.
Even before CVS took action this week, other pharmacies had already stopped or delayed filling prescriptions from Cerebral and Done over concerns their clinicians were giving out too many prescriptions for stimulants. The Wall Street Journal also reported that Walmart Inc. began blocking some prescriptions affiliated with Done earlier this year as well.
Done told Gizmodo in an email they’re disappointed some pharmacies are opting out of filling prescriptions on their platform and added in part, quote, “Done is currently assisting affected patients and providers with the transition of their pharmacy choice and we expect this situation will be quickly resolved, if provided the opportunity, so patients can access the medications they have been prescribed using evidence based medicine.”
Update 5/25/2022, 4:40 p.m. ET: This post has been updated with additional comment from Cerebral.
Update 5/26/2022, 12:55 p.m. ET: This post has been updated with comment from Done.