Cerebral Stops New Prescriptions for ADHD Meds Effective May 9
Existing patients will continue to receive medication, including controlled substances, prescribed by the online mental health provider prior to May 9.
May 4, 2022
Cerebral Inc. will stop writing new prescriptions for controlled substances that treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), such as Adderall and Ritalin, effective May 9, in states where prescribing services exist. Current patients will continue to receive medications prescribed by the digital mental healthcare provider prior to that deadline. The company is calling this a “pause” of its ADHD services, and not a permanent cessation of prescribing services for stimulant medications.
“Clinical quality and safety are at the forefront of what we do, which is why we have decided to pause part of our ADHD service line,” wrote Kyle Robertson, CEO and founder of Cerebral, in a recent staff memo. “Based on recent feedback from stakeholders, it is clear that this has become a distraction from our focus to democratize access to mental healthcare services, provide treatment for more patients, and add service lines for new conditions.”
The company has faced recent backlash for its prescribing practices and marketing strategies. The Wall Street Journal reported in March that some nurse practitioners at Cerebral felt pressured to prescribe stimulant medication like Adderall to patients newly diagnosed with ADHD via the platform. Shortly after, it reported that some national pharmacies were delaying or blocking prescriptions for controlled substances coming from Cerebral and its competitor Done. On May 2, the Wall Street Journal reported that Truepill, which delivers medications directly to consumers, would stop filling stimulant prescriptions by Cerebral’s clinicians out of an “abundance of caution.” Last week, a former Cerebral vice president filed a lawsuit against the company, alleging his job was terminated after he spoke up about unethical prescribing practices and patient safety issues.
In January, Instagram and TikTok pulled advertisements from Cerebral after “the social media platforms found the ads promoted negative body images and contained misleading health claims,” reported NBC News.
Robertson addressed some of these recent headlines in his memo. “We recognize that we have made mistakes when it comes to our TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram advertising in the past,” he wrote.
He continued that “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.”
In a press release, the company announced several initiatives to add more safeguards to its clinical safety protocols and to prioritize the recruitment of psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners. In addition, Cerebral says its new Clinical Review Committee will assess all paid social ads. Also today, Cerebral announced the promotion of its Chief Medical Officer, David Mou, M.D., to the role of President.