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Big Health and CVS launch medication targeting program

Sarah Pringle
Apr 28, 2022
Illustration of a brain-shaped maze with the correct path highlighted.
Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

SoftBank-backed Big Health is partnering with CVS to launch a new medication targeting program to drive greater access to digital therapeutics for mental health and insomnia, the company tells Axios.

Why it matters: Underscored by the pandemic, mental health treatment faces a big volume and scale challenge.

  • By targeting the patients that have already sought help and are receiving prescriptions, Big Health unlocks a greater opportunity to reach individuals with a third, safe option for treatment, CEO Peter Hames says.

State of play: Prescription usage is high-risk, but on the rise, whereas there's a large shortage of traditional therapists.

  • Because it is often the only available solution, 82% of mental health patients are treated with medication.
  • "The pandemic has highlighted how inadequate the traditional modalities of care are in tackling that problem," Hames says. "[Big Health] combines the safety and effectiveness of human therapy with the scalability and accessibility and equity of drugs."

How it works: Anybody that's filling a mental health prescription through CVS Caremark will now have an option to access Big Health's two digital therapeutics, which are offered via the smartphone.

  • That includes Daylight, which treats anxiety, and Sleepio, for insomnia.
  • Hames says this essentially lets Big Health, with the consent of the plan sponsor, to automate member outreach in real time.
  • "We're using that prescribing event as a trigger, but we don't have to change the behavior of the prescribers," Hames says. "We’re not getting in front of the drugs. It’s a life raft."

Context: Big Health and CVS originally partnered in 2019 to enable reimbursement of its digital therapeutics, integrating within the PBM's existing payment process for medications.

  • "That reduced a significant barrier to growth," Hames says. "That made it much easier for plan sponsors — large employers, health plans — to actually reimburse our products ... This is just another step in our funnel."

Catch up quick: Big Health earlier this year scored $75 million in Series C funding led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2.

  • ArrowMark Partners entered as a new investor, joined by existing investors Octopus Ventures, Gilde Healthcare, Kaiser Permanente Ventures (KPV) and Morningside Ventures
  • The funding will support its plans to launch six new digital therapeutics, the San Francisco-based company said.
  • Big Health has about 10 million covered lives globally, and in the commercial population, has provided care for up to a quarter of a million people, Hames says.
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