Mental health startup Ahead got behind
Ahead, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based virtual provider of ADHD treatment, is shutting down, Bloomberg reports.
Why it matters: When viewed alongside Halcyon's shuttering, Ahead's closure could be seen as a worrying portent for the venture-backed behavioral health sector.
Yes, but: Ahead and Halcyon had significantly different business models and treatment approaches. So the timing of the shutdowns is striking, but the closures shouldn't be seen as a sign of impending doom within the broader mental health sector, investors and entrepreneurs tell Axios.
- "These are such deep categories," says Ambar Bhattacharyya, managing director of Maverick Ventures. "Generally you see only one to three companies per category, but not in behavioral health."
Context: Ahead is among a crop of Silicon Valley startups providing access to ADHD medications online — many of which have come under scrutiny for potentially lax prescribing practices.
- Two examples are Done, backed by Craft Ventures and Offline Ventures, and Cerebral, which was backed by ARTIS Ventures and SoftBank, among other firms, and valued at $4.8 billion.
Flashback: Founded in 2019, Ahead raised $9 million from digital pharmacy enabler Truepill.
Details: Ahead will no longer accept new patients, but will continue serving current users until June 24, Truepill CEO Sid Viswanathan told Bloomberg.
What they're saying: The pandemic-era waiver of the Ryan Haight Act, which blocked companies from prescribing controlled substances online, has fueled a concerning rise in prescriptions for amphetamine medications, sources tell Axios.
- "They’ve all become Adderall mills because of the waiver," one source, who previously worked for Cerebral, tells Axios. "Everything kind of fell apart from there."