A lawsuit filed in late April against Cerebral, an online mental health startup, has led to a decision by the company to stop prescribing Adderall and Ritalin to new patients as of May 9.
The lawsuit was filed by Cerebral former vice president of product and engineering, Matthew Truebe. In his lawsuit, Truebe alleges that Cerebral’s business practices emphasized profits over patient safety and well-being, Digital Health Business & Technology reported.
Cerebral allegedly planned to prescribe Adderall and Ritalin, two drugs primarily used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), to 100% of its patients, Truebe’s lawsuit contends. The complaint also alleges that Cerebral encouraged doctors to prescribe the medications. For disclosing these business practices, Truebe alleges that he was fired by the company.
New patients affected by the pause on Adderall and Ritalin prescriptions will be prescribed other medications.
Cerebral denies Truebe’s allegations. The company’s CEO, Kyle Robertson, wrote in a blog post, “Cerebral is not incentivized or focused on treating a specific condition. Cerebral does not provide its clinicians with a target for prescriptions. Cerebral does not reprimand a clinician for not writing prescriptions as long as they are practicing in a clinically safe way as guided by evidence-based clinical guidelines with clear, appropriate documentation.”
Earlier this year, Yahoo reported that Cerebral was valued at nearly $5 billion and hired Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles as its chief impact officer.
Two recent articles by prominent news outlets have placed Cerebral’s business practices in the spotlight. A May 7 article by Business Insider reported that the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has launched an investigation into the company, while an article published that same day by the Wall Street Journal focused on how national pharmacy chains such as CVS, Walgreens and Walmart are either delaying or denying prescriptions that originate from Cerebral’s online platform because of over-prescribing concerns.
A spokesperson for Cerebral said that the WSJ report was inaccurate and that the delays in filling the company’s ADHD medications were due to administrative reasons involving insurance companies and availability of medicine.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, people were required to be evaluated in person in order to be prescribed controlled substance prescriptions; however, the DEA waived the requirement because of the public health emergency.