February 2, 2023

The Drug Enforcement Administration has alleged that online pharmacy Truepill wrongfully filled thousands of prescriptions for stimulants used to treat Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.

The San Mateo, California-based company, which previously filled prescriptions for embattled mental digital health company Cerebral, was served with an order to show cause Thursday.

The order is an administrative action to determine whether a DEA certificate of registration should be revoked.

The agency said its investigation found some prescribers did not possess proper state licensing while others exceeded the 90-day supply limits. It said it found more than 60% of the 72,000 controlled substance prescriptions Truepill filled between September 2020 and September 2022 were for stimulants, including generic forms of Adderall.

“In numerous instances, Truepill dispensed controlled substances pursuant to prescriptions that were not issued for a legitimate medical purpose in the usual course of professional practice,” the DEA alleged in a news release.

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In an emailed statement, the company confirmed it received the order and was fully cooperating with it. “We are confident we will be able to demonstrate the absence of wrongdoing,” a spokesperson wrote.

“Chance of a successful defense case in a DEA registration hearing is very low,” Ronald Chapman II, an attorney who has represented clients in such actions, said in an email. “If in fact prescriptions exceeded the supply cap and lacked state authority, I believe the DEA administrator will revoke TruePill’s DEA registration. This would be a business ending event for TruePill.”

In May, the Wall Street Journal reported Truepill was temporarily pausing filling prescriptions for Schedule II substances, which made up less than 1% of its total prescription volume. The report said Truepill was Cerebral’s preferred pharmacy.

In the emailed statement, the Truepill spokesperson said the company “had stopped dispensing controlled substance II drugs prescribed via telehealth in April.”

The company laid off 150 employees, or about 15% of its staff, in early June. At the time, Sid Viswanathan, Truepill’s CEO, said the company was adjusting its financial strategy to address the broader economic climate. In October 2021, Truepill received a $142 million Series D funding round that put its valuation at $1.6 billion.

This story first appeared in Digital Health Business & Technology.

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