Akili jumps the counter
Last week, Akili Interactive, maker of EndeavorRx (a prescription digital therapeutic, or PDT, for pediatric ADHD), announced that it is moving away from pursuing the prescription path and will instead sell its products over-the-counter to consumers. The decision follows the company’s June release of an adult version of its PDT, EndeavorOTC, made available direct-to-consumer via a subscription model. Based on EndeavorOTC’s positive in-market trajectory, Akili has decided to pursue regulatory approval for over-the-counter labeling of EndeavorRx.
Akili’s announcement comes at a difficult time for the prescription digital therapeutics space. Just a few months ago, Pear Therapeutics—another early PDT mover—declared bankruptcy and sold off its assets. Some of the challenges that limited Pear are referenced by Akili as motivation for their business pivot; in particular, both companies emphasized the challenges of working with payer organizations to receive reimbursement for PDTs.
Akili’s pivot to consumer-first sales may mark the beginning of a new chapter for the digital therapeutics sector, with reduced focus on payer buy-in and physician prescribing in favor of increased consumer access and marketing. But questions remain about consumer acquisition costs, long-term retention, and competition from other health apps and digital consumer solutions.
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