Troubled telemental health provider Cerebral may face a lawsuit from former CEO Kyle Robertson. Ousted in May when the company’s prescriptions for ADHD patients started to be excluded from pharmacies such as Truepill, CVS, and Walmart for Schedule 2 (potential for abuse and misuse) medications such as Adderall, Ritalin, and Vyvanse [TTA 6 May], Robertson has written a letter to Cerebral demanding access to documents. The types of documents requested, according to (paywalled) Insider, include “possible breaches of fiduciary duty, mismanagement and other violations of law.” Usually, these are a setup to determine whether others on the company board and leadership were the real culprits in business mismanagement, and a prelude to a legal filing.
CBS News obtained a copy of the Robertson letter, in which “Robertson says he was pressured by the company’s investors to “sell more stimulants” and believes his ouster was an effort to “scapegoat” him as these investigations arose. He was urged by one board member that “the easier you make it for people to get stimulants, the better for the business and its customers.” and also claimed that an investor told Robertson’s partner the company’s “ADHD business is crushing and it’s a cash cow … Kyle’s got to push this thing further.” Other documents obtained by CBS allegedly detail clinical safety issues, staff “practicing with expired (or) suspended license(s),” and duplicate accounts which could set the stage for overprescribing. Other documents allege lack of training, pushing prescriptions to 95% of patients, and disregarding state regulations putting licenses at risk. [TTA 29 June] The current management, led by David Mou, has denied this all.
Multiple investigations are proceeding. From May on, Cerebral came under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on deceptive advertising and marketing practices, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) as part of increased scrutiny of telehealth providers and pharmacies possibly overprescribing telehealth-generated prescriptions, and most significantly, the Department of Justice (DOJ) subpoenas on allegations of overprescribing. A prior wrongful dismissal lawsuit by Matthew Truebe, Cerebral’s former VP of product and engineering, alleged that the company put growth before patient safety, including prescribing ADHD drugs to 100% of diagnosed patients as a retention strategy. The concatenation of evidence from multiple sources makes a lawsuit by Robertson, who also cites other factors, probable–unless this is being used as a tablespoon to sweeten his severance.
Prior to that, Cerebral was one of the leaders in the still-hot digital mental health category. In December 2021, their $300 million Series C raise led by Softbank boosted their valuation past $4.8 billion, employed 4,500, and had 210,000 patients. In October, they released 400 staff but other reports indicate far more. Also FierceHealthcare
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