Cerebral Expands OUD Treatment Business as Walmart, CVS Stop Filling Prescriptions

Digital behavioral health company Cerebral is continuing the expansion of its opioid use disorder treatment program to include Colorado and Washington state.

The program, which was first announced in March, uses a combination of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and behavioral therapy. However, this expansion comes just days after pharmacy giants CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) and Walmart (NYSE: WMT) announced that they would no longer fill controlled substances for Cerebral, including narcotic dependence treatment Suboxone.

This could pose barriers for Cerebral patients seeking to get prescriptions filled.


“We will work with patients to help them find other nearby pharmacies that can meet their needs when our licensed providers conclude the drug would be safe and effective,” Dr. David Mou, CEO of Cerebral, wrote in a Linkedin post.

CVS and Walmart both have a major reach in the U.S. prescription market. CVS is the largest pharmacy by total prescription revenue and Walmart is the fifth largest, according to the 2022 Economic Report on U.S. Pharmacies and Pharmacy Benefit Managers.

The San Francisco-based company was founded in 2019. Since launching, Cerebral has raised roughly $462 million in venture funding. Its $300 million Series C funding round brought the company’s total valuation to $4.8 billion.


In recent months, the company has taken heat for its ADHD medication prescribing practices. Specifically, Bloomberg reported that Cerebral’s emphasis on medication prescribing led to clinicians pushing medications.

A former Cerebral employee filed a lawsuit against the company alleging he faced retaliation after questioning the company’s prescribing practices.

In May, the Wall Street Journal reported that digital pharmacy Truepill would stop filling Cerebral prescriptions of Adderall. Additionally, news emerged that CVS Health previously blocked certain Cerebral prescribers from prescribing Adderall.

The company has since announced that it would stop new Adderall prescriptions and end all existing Adderall prescriptions by the fall.

Additionally, the Cerebral board recently made leadership changes in the organization, replacing the company’s founder and CEO Kyle Roberston with Mou, who previously served as chief medical officer.

While the company is moving away from ADHD prescriptions, it does appear to be looking to expand its substance use disorder program.

“This program began in March, on a limited basis, treating patients in Florida,” Mou wrote in the Linkedin post. “We’re planning a gradual expansion to meet an urgent need throughout the U.S.”

Opioid use disorder is prevalent in the U.S. In fact, in 2019, an estimated 10.1 million individuals misused opioids in the past year, according to The Department of Health and Human Services.