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A loophole in the rules governing the advertising of stimulant drugs must be closed, according to a report released on Monday by an international think tank.

Many telehealth companies aggressively market stimulant drugs to users on social media without the typical disclosures found in pharmaceutical ads, according to a 39-page report from the Center for Data Innovation, which data , studies the intersection of technology and technology. public policy.

It clarified that telehealth companies can post advertisements for prescription drugs without including any warnings or information about side effects due to technicalities in drug advertising laws and regulations.

Many ads on social media for stimulant medication target audiences concerned with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder. The Center for Data Innovation report referenced this November 2021 tweet from Clarity ADHD:

Klarity ADHD Tweet Ad Gets Adderall Prescribed Online for ADHD

Image Source: Clarity ADHD Twitter Feed


“The majority of medical providers who offer treatment for ADHD act in the best interests of their patients and prescribe stimulant medications when medically necessary,” said Morgan Stevens, author of the report.

“But some newer telehealth companies, such as Cerebral and Done, have abused the advertising loophole to market stimulant drugs,” she told TechNewsWorld.

Cerebral declined to comment for this story. Kiya did not respond to a request for comment.

bullets in front of people

The report notes that the consumption of stimulant drugs has increased over the past few decades, following a pattern similar to the opioid epidemic.

Stimulant drug consumption continued to rise during the COVID-19 pandemic, with some telehealth companies taking advantage of lax regulations to offer prescriptions for stimulants with little medical supervision or appropriate care.

However, despite the increased consumption and availability of stimulant drugs, stimulant abuse, and more prescriptions, face less scrutiny than other Schedule II controlled substances, such as opioids, it added.

The report noted that several regulatory changes designed to promote the use of telehealth during the pandemic allowed more remote services to be delivered than ever before, including prescribing stimulant drugs.

In pursuit of rapid growth, it continued, some telehealth companies prioritize customer retention and satisfaction over ensuring that patients receive appropriate, high-quality care.

The report notes that some companies operating in the telehealth space do not meet the standards for in-person psychiatric care.

The diagnostic process for ADHD usually involves a lengthy evaluation in which a medical provider will review the patient’s clinical history, discuss reported symptoms, and ask for information from the patient’s friends and family. Could Instead, some companies evaluate patients during 30-minute appointments before reaching a diagnosis and prescribing stimulant medications.

‘Assisted Ads’

Companies advertising ADHD drugs were able to avoid more stringent regulations by not mentioning specific drugs by name.

Unlike ads that name specific drugs, the report noted that these ads—classified by the FDA as “help-seeking ads”—discuss a condition or disease but do not refer to a specific medical treatment for it. Let’s give

Instead, these ads would list the symptoms caused by ADHD and encourage viewers to seek treatment from a medical professional if they experience symptoms.


Google Ads search result for Buy Adderall online from ADHD treatment provider turned up

December 5, 2022 — A Google search for “buy Adderall online” brings up the first result which is an ad for Done.


However, the report notes that many of the symptoms listed in the ads are general to the human condition and may not indicate that a person has ADHD.

In disseminating information about ADHD symptoms without providing additional context, these ads run the risk of misleading viewers into thinking they have ADHD and should take medications to treat the condition without understanding the risks.

It states that viewers may identify with one or more of the common symptoms presented in the ad and seek medical treatment for the condition. This may result in some viewers receiving a misdiagnosis and medically unnecessary treatment.

Law enforcement audits of telehealth platforms

Although some telehealth providers offering mental health services may have played a role in a sharp increase in stimulant drug prescriptions during the COVID-19 pandemic, the report urged policymakers to focus on improving oversight of those providers. is — and rather than punishing those who violate the law — seeking retribution for the telehealth industry as a whole.

Among the actions recommended in the report are policy makers having law enforcement agencies regularly audit telehealth platforms to identify bad or negligent actors responsible for unnecessary prescriptions.

However, Dr. Jeffrey Singer, a surgeon and senior fellow at the Washington, DC think tank Keto Institute, sees some problems with law enforcement playing a role in regulating the medical profession.

“I don’t know many law enforcement people who have medical or pharmacological degrees, but they decide what is excessive and what is not,” he told TechNewsWorld.

“Whether doctors are overprescribing, underprescribing or prescribing inappropriately is a medical decision, not a decision for the criminal legal system,” he said.

In a white paper published in November, Singer and Cato Research Fellow Trevor Burruss argued that medical mismanagement of pain, which causes harm to patients, is best addressed through the civil tort system.

,[S]States establish professional licensing boards specifically to enforce the ‘standard of care’ provided by those professionals,” he wrote. “Law enforcement has no medical expertise and no knowledge of narcotics and psychoactive They should have no role in classifying substances.”

doctor crossing the state line

Stevens countered that the Drug Enforcement Administration, Department of Health and Human Services, and state law enforcement agencies are already investigating physicians and organizations in the health care industry, in addition to the regular audits the DEA conducts for controlled substances.

“The DEA, HHS and states have the ability to expand these operations to ensure compliance with more controlled substances,” he added.

The report also recommended that doctors be allowed to treat patients across state lines. She suggested that policy makers increase the number of providers patients can see to receive mental health services. With telehealth, patients can receive remote medical care from providers in various locations.

It states that state policymakers should join licensing compacts that enable medical providers to practice across state lines.

In testimony before Congress, Singer suggested lawmakers go even further. He told the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Media and Broadband, “Congress should define ‘place of care’ as the state in which the practitioner is located as opposed to the state in which the consumer of the service resides.”

“This change will increase access to care and allow patients to access expertise that may exist in areas of the country that are otherwise beyond their reach,” he explained. “It would also remove protections from out-of-state competitors that health care providers otherwise enjoy. The increased competition would again be to the benefit of patients.”

Keep a Watchful Eye on Telehealth Providers

The report states that the telehealth startup economy grew due to regulatory changes from the COVID-19 pandemic. These new companies enabled patients to receive medical care from the comfort of their homes and provided medical benefits that would otherwise be unavailable. Still, some telehealth providers have taken advantage of these changes to the detriment of patients.

Given the benefits of telehealth and the ease of access, it continued, policymakers should continue to drive regulatory changes that have helped the companies flourish. However, they must work to ensure that remote patients receive the same level of care as they would during an in-person appointment.