Telehealth Startup Cerebral Under Investigation Over Controlled Substance Regulations

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

The company said the same day it was discontinuing its controlled substance prescriptions for new patients.

Cerebral offers therapy and counseling for conditions such as 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 come under scrutiny in recent months from medical professionals, regulators and social media platforms. It pushed ads to Meta and TikTok linking ADHD to obesity, which the platforms pulled for being misleading. Experts said other ads overestimated the benefits of ADHD medications and tied vague symptoms to the condition. Nurses who work for Cerebral told The Wall Street Journal they felt the 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 “pharmacy of choice,” the mail-order pharmacy Truepill, stopped prescribing Adderall and other controlled substances last week, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Cerebral is also facing an investigation from the Drug Enforcement Administration, 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 agency has accused Cerebral of violating any law. Cerebral intends to cooperate fully with the investigation, which we have already passed on to the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” Cerebral said in a statement. Insider

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