Health Tech, Payers

Pear Therapeutics raises $80M in push for reimbursement

SoftBank’s second Vision Fund led the recent funding round. Pear plans to use it to accelerate reimbursement coverage for its three FDA-cleared products.

Pear Therapeutics raised $80 million in funding, which it plans to use as part of a push for coverage of its digital therapeutics. The Boston-based company has three FDA-cleared products, including digital therapeutics for substance use disorder, opioid use disorder, and most recently, insomnia.

SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2 led the series D funding round. Several of Pear’s existing investors, including Novartis, also participated.

“We’re really using this funding to build commercial momentum for our three approved products,” Pear Therapeutics CEO Corey McCann said in a phone interview.

The startup develops software tools to be used either in tandem with or instead of medication. For example, its digital therapeutic for opioid use disorder is used in conjunction with medication-assisted therapy. Patients would spend time in the app every week, with modules to help them understand their motivations for sobriety, skills for managing triggers and harm reduction. But like any other treatment, it’s only available to patients who have a prescription, which can be sent as a code to “unlock” the app.

Pear has drummed up some interest from insurers and PBMs, including Hartford Financial Services Group, Fairview Health Services and RemedyOne, which cover its therapeutic for substance use disorder.

McCann also hinted at future work with insurers that manage state Medicaid plans. The company recently published real-world data on the efficacy of its therapeutic for opioid use disorder, in a 351-person study where most of the participants were covered through Medicaid. It also published data showing a reduction in spending of $2,150 per patient.

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A Deep-dive Into Specialty Pharma

A specialty drug is a class of prescription medications used to treat complex, chronic or rare medical conditions. Although this classification was originally intended to define the treatment of rare, also termed “orphan” diseases, affecting fewer than 200,000 people in the US, more recently, specialty drugs have emerged as the cornerstone of treatment for chronic and complex diseases such as cancer, autoimmune conditions, diabetes, hepatitis C, and HIV/AIDS.

“In many cases, payers right now are concerned with being able to provide access at all for these patient populations,” McCann said. “This is a new space, but our approach has been one of rigor… Payers are very used to looking at clinical trial and real-world data. In that way, I think they see us as quite different from an unclear digital therapeutic or an unclear health and wellness app.”

Pear has also made its newer digital therapeutic for insomnia available for cash-pay patients, though at $899, the price is steep. Pear says it offers a discount and patients can deduct it from a FSA or HSA.

It’s currently working on a pipeline of 15 different candidates, including a digital therapeutic for schizophrenia. Though the latter has not yet received market authorization from the FDA, Pear was still able to make it available to patients after the agency issued an emergency guidance to expand access to digital health devices during the pandemic.

Photo credit: Getty Images, photo_chaz