Telehealth app Cerebral could be fueling addiction crisis, former employees say

Telepsychiatry app Cerebral has grown explosively during the pandemic, but 27 former employees said the company could be fueling a new addiction crisis, according to a March 11 Bloomberg report.

Prescribing regulations were relaxed during the pandemic, allowing providers to prescribe addictive drugs without requiring an in-person examination. Some Cerebral employees told Bloomberg they felt Cerebral is taking advantage of these relaxed rules, and the app's providers are pressured to prescribe medications after short video visits. 

Former employees also expressed concerns that appointments were too short, follow-up sessions were scheduled infrequently, and advertisements were too aggressive.

"Given our commitment to quality and access to care, we strongly believe that we can serve almost all patients who suffer from mental health conditions," Cerebral spokesperson Don Campbell told Bloomberg. "We have safety mechanisms in place that no brick-and-mortar clinic, much less other telehealth companies, have in place."

Mr. Campbell also said Cerebral tries "to reduce the amount of controlled substances used and the overall reliance" on prescriptions.

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