Former Cerebral CEO says investors pushed prescribing of stimulants
On Friday, the former CEO and founder at Cerebral, an online mental health company, demanded access to “books” and records that could show whether Cerebral violated the law. This could lead to a potential lawsuit.
Kyle Robertson was ousted from the company in May as scrutiny increased over Cerebral’s prescribing of stimulants like Adderall, which is used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and is considered a controlled substance. The Department of Justice began an investigation into claims that it over-prescribed controlled drugs earlier this year.
In a letter obtained by CBS News Robertson claims he was forced by investors to sell more stimulants. He believes that his ouster was an attempt to “scapegoat him” as these investigations took place.
A Cerebral spokesperson stated that the claims against Cerebral’s board and Cerebral are false, defamatory and baseless under law and fact. These meritless allegations will be vigorously defended by us. “
Robertson claims that a board member told him that “the easier it is for people to get stimulants the better the business and its customers.” Robertson’s partner was allegedly told by an investor that the company’s ADHD business was “crushing” and that it’s a money cow. Kyle needs to push this idea further. “
According to the letter, Cerebral didn’t initially prescribe controlled substances. These substances are tightly controlled by Drug Enforcement Administration because of their addictive nature. It only did so at Robertson’s request. He claims that Cerebral board “wanted to capitalize” on the temporary pause in the Ryan Haight Act, which eliminates the requirement for a physician to prescribe controlled substances.
While the Ryan Haight Act will remain in effect as long as there is a Pandemic Health Emergency, Cerebral has stopped prescribing controlled substances for new patients earlier in the year.
After Robertson’s removal, the company’s chief medical officer Dr. David Mou was elevated to CEO by the board even though, according to the letter, Mou was “responsible for the very prescription policies the government is currently investigating.”
In an exclusive interview this June, Mou told CBS News’ Anna Werner he was “confident that our clinical programs are very, very good. They’re even better than the standard of care. “
Documents obtained from CBS News show Cerebral leadership was aware of numerous risks facing the company last fall. These included “clinical safety concerns,” “hires (who may not… meet our hiring standard”), and staff “practicing without expired (or suspended) license(s). The document also stated that duplicate accounts could pose a risk to patient safety as multiple controlled substances could be prescribed to the same person. “
Mou answered questions about the risks in the document and said that he trusts the clinical program. As chief medical officer, my mandate was to bring in safety and quality. I did that.
Robertson also claims that he was subject to homophobic and anti-LGBT remarks and communications during his tenure as CEO. A spokesperson for Cerebral stated that the specific allegations made against their executives and board were contrary to our culture of championing diversity, inclusion, and are the antithesis what we stand for. “
CBS News reached investors Access Industries and WestCap Group, Softbank, and Oak HC/FT to inquire about the names of employees named in the letter. Access Industries and WestCap Group spokespeople told CBS News that they did not have any comment beyond Cerebral’s statement, which is representative of their views. CBS News reached out to Softbank and Oak HC/FT for comment.
Correction: This story has been updated to remove quotes from the phrase sell more stimulants, which was intended to paraphrase a sentiment in the Robertson letter, but is not a direct quote.
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