Telehealth has been around for a long time, but it gained much of its current popularity with the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic. That popularity has since sprung telehealth forward as innovators and startups push to provide convenience and higher quality of life to people around the world.
However, in the wake of the telehealth revolution, problems have also cropped up, such as prescribing practices dealing with controlled substances. It is that very thing that has led to the DEA investigating Done, a telehealth company focused on online treatment for ADHD.
Done focuses on ADHD, which means it prescribes medications to treat the disorder like Adderall. This is in line with the DEA’s current crackdown on mental health telehealth companies that prescribe controlled substances, such as stimulants like Adderall, and opioids like OxyContin.
Another example of a company caught up in investigations is Cerebral, which is also under investigation due to prescribing practices. In fact, in May, Cerebral announced that it would stop prescribing drugs in the stimulant category.
That being said, a Done representative has said that the company has yet to receive “notifications from the Drug Enforcement Agency, Department of Justice, or any other federal agency regarding an investigation.” Though, there are reports of the DEA questioning people about the company’s prescribing practices.
Done, along with Cerebral and similar companies, became popular during the pandemic with the rise of telehealth as a whole. During that time, the DEA waived a rule requiring controlled medications to be prescribed in person, opening the door for a new age of online prescribing.
Many companies have stopped prescribing controlled substances like Adderall, not just Cerebral. That makes Done one of the final holdouts, though it might not be long if the investigation truly takes form.
Of course, prescribing controlled substances is not enough of a reason to get up in arms on its own. Instead, it is the misuse of legally manufactured drugs that attracts the DEA’s attention and scrutiny. That is why the accusations of overprescribing, which Done and Cerebral have both received, are of particular importance.
Done has also received criticism in the past over its ability to look after patients. The company saw incredible growth by offering “next day” appointments and “worry-free” refills. But the growth caused the company to drop the ball.
Patients repeatedly complained about missed refills and poor communication. Incidents include patients being told they needed to schedule a telehealth appointment prior to receiving more medication, only for the appointment to come after their medication ran out. And in some cases, patients simply stopped receiving updates about what was happening with their prescriptions.
The ongoing struggle with retail pharmacy operators does not help things, either. Some telehealth providers, including Done, have had problems with pharmacy rejections. For Done, that includes CVS Health pharmacies, which has caused some patients to experience delays. The company stated that such moves “delegitimize patient’s needs for treatment via telehealth.”
There is no doubt that telehealth provides wide access to much-needed care, which is particularly vital for the mental health community. But there is also a lot of room for abuse when it comes to controlled substances, intentional or otherwise. That is especially true if companies push prescribers to write scripts and stimulate growth.
But for now, the only thing that is clear is the DEA’s continued scrutiny of the telehealth industry. Only time will tell what the results will be and whether Done and companies like it will remain unchanged or even standing when the dust settles.
Spencer Hulse is a news desk editor at Grit Daily News. He covers startups, affiliate, viral, and marketing news.