A Pharma First: FDA-Approved App for Treatment of Addiction

It’s 2019. If technology is integrated into our daily lives when it comes to work, entertainment, and even social interactions, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that tech is also playing a major role in improving health outcomes. A 2018 study showed that 90% of Americans use digital health tools in their daily lives (Bryant, 2018). Digital health tools can come in the familiar form of Apple Watches and Fitbits, where consumers can track their personal health goals, even down to their sleep patterns. But digital tools, are being transformed into digital therapies that have the potential to help patients with more than just getting enough sleep at night.

Digital therapies have the potential to vastly improve patient outcomes in certain types of illnesses. While they may not replace drug therapies altogether, digital therapies are showing promise in the treatment of mental illnesses, insomnia, and even multiple sclerosis. The founder and CEO of Pear Therapeutics, Corey McCann said, “this is the moment for digital therapies” and in a way you may not have thought was possible.

First FDA Approved PDT App

Pear Therapeutics refers to themselves as the pioneer in Prescription Digital Therapeutics (PDTs), which is a completely digital form of treatment for certain diseases. What is a digital therapy exactly? They are considered a subset of digital health and are therapeutic interventions driven by high-quality software programs to prevent, manage or treat a medical disorder or disease. Pear Therapeutics is the first company to have a digital form of treatment approved by the FDA, as the first mobile app to help treat substance use disorders.

The company has been enthusiastically talked about on major news platforms including CNBC, Fortune, and The New York Times. Pear Therapeutics was given the “green light” by the FDA with its DT app called reSET®. “After reviewing the results from a 12-week clinical trial… almost 400 people participated and received standard treatment or standard treatment with the desktop-based version of the reSET® app. The results found a ‘statistically significant increase’ in adherence to abstinence from alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, and stimulants, according to the FDA” (Farr, 2017). The app incentivizes and rewards patients for their adherence to their personalized treatment plan, while also giving medical providers instant data access to their patient’s performance. This data helps provide better insights including patient triggers, cravings, moods, with the possibility of a better treatment outcome. The app also ensures a cost-effective solution for payers.

reSET® Digital Therapy App

Fig. 1 – reSET® App by Pear Therapeutics

Benefits of PDTs

By using apps as therapies, patients are able to access treatment at the touch of their fingertips, wherever they are and whenever they need. For some patients, having to schedule appointments with their physicians can be an added stress that prevents them from getting the help they need. Whether it be a long wait until the next appointment or the cost of an office visit, there are endless factors why this may not be easy for some patients. Looking at Figure 1, you can see that the reSET® app allows a patient to track their cravings, triggers or substance use, while even offering weekly lessons. By using the app, patients can feel that treatment is more attainable at the moment they need, ultimately resulting in better outcomes.

The Future of Technology in Medicine

With advances in technology, there are endless possibilities in the type of treatment we will see in years to come. Innovators in the life sciences industry are constantly trying to find new ways to better serve their patients and help their adherence to treatment. For now, PDTs are pushing the boundaries of technology to give patients hope and the possibility of a future without the barriers of their disease.

Disclaimer: Hale Advisors, Inc. is not affiliated with Pear Therapeutics; this post is a matter of opinion and not meant to be assumed as advertising or promotion of medical devices.

Bryant, Meg. “90% of Americans use digital health tools, survey shows.” Healthcare Dive, 29 Aug. 2018 https://www.healthcaredive.com/news/90-of-americans-use-digital-health-tools-survey-shows/531148/
Farr, Christina. “The FDA Just Approved the First App for Treating Substance Abuse.” CNBC, CNBC, 14 Sept. 2017, www.cnbc.com/2017/09/14/the-fda-approved-the-first-mobile-app-to-treat-substance-use-disorders.html

Figure 1 Source: https://peartherapeutics.com/products/reset-reset-o/

Michelle Fitzpatrick
Michelle has 4 years’ experience in digital marketing. Michelle holds an M.B.A. from SUNY New Paltz and studied International Business in Monterrey and Guadalajara, Mexico.

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