Telehealth startup Cerebral under investigation over prescriptions for controlled substances

Mental health startup Cerebral is under investigation by the US Department of Justice over its prescribing of controlled substances like Adderall and Xanax. The company received a grand jury subpoena asking for documents from the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York on May 4, Insider first reported.

The company said the same day that it was pausing its prescriptions for controlled substances for new patients.

Cerebral offers therapy and counseling for conditions like anxiety, insomnia, and ADHD. Unlike some other online mental health services, it also offers prescriptions for controlled substances used to treat some of those conditions.

The company’s advertising and prescribing practices have been under scrutiny by medical professionals, regulators, and social media platforms over the past few months. It pushed ads to Meta and TikTok linking ADHD to obesity, which the platforms pulled for being misleading. Experts said other ads overstated the benefits of ADHD medications and tied vague symptoms to the condition. Nurse practitioners working for Cerebral told The Wall Street Journal they felt pressure to prescribe ADHD medication after a short video call.

Pharmacies like Walmart and CVS stopped filling Adderall prescriptions from Cerebral and other telehealth companies in April. Cerebral’s “preferred pharmacy,” the mail-order pharmacy Truepill, stopped Adderall and other controlled substance prescriptions last week, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Cerebral is also facing a Drug Enforcement Administration investigation, Insider reported last week. It’s not clear if the DOJ investigation is related.

“To be clear, at this time, no regulatory or law enforcement authority has accused Cerebral of violating any law. Cerebral intends to fully cooperate with the investigation, which we already have conveyed to the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” Cerebral said in a statement to Insider.

Source: The Verge

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