California Medi-Cal Contracts With Pear to Treat Stimulant Use Disorder

Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program, has contracted with Pear Therapeutics for members in 24 counties to participate in an outpatient program for stimulant use disorder.

A pilot program with the state of California’s Medicaid program, Medi-Cal, will allow eligible members to participate in a 24-week outpatient program to treat stimulant use disorder. The Recovery Incentives: California’s Contingency Management Program will utilize Pear Therapeutics to track and distribute incentives.

The program uses evidence-based treatment to provide motivational incentives to treat stimulant use disorder. The goal is to recognize and reinforce positive behavioral change. California has received federal approval for the use of contingency management (CM) as a benefit in the Medicaid program.

“We applaud California’s DHCS for taking this important step to expand access to behavioral treatment to address the stimulant use disorder crisis that persists in California,” Julia Strandberg, chief commercial officer of Pear Therapeutics, said in a statement. “By working together, we will implement an innovative program that will reinforce individual positive behavioral change consistent with meeting treatment goals.”

The program is launching in 24 California counties in the first quarter of 2023. The 24-week outpatient program is also followed by six or more months of additional recovery support services. Motivational incentives will be in the form of low-denomination gift cards and the retail value will be determined per treatment episode.

Pear will deliver, implement, and manage the program through the electronic tracking and distribution of incentives to Medi-Cal members who participate in the program. The pilot program will inform the design and implementation of a statewide CM benefit through the Drug Medi-Cal Organized Delivery System.

California is not the first state to partner with Pear to fight addiction. In November, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services awarded the company funding to provide residents with access to Pear’s reSET and reSET-O, which treat substance use disorder and opioid use disorder, respectively.

Both reSET and reSET-O are FDA-authorized prescription digital therapeutics (PDTs) delivering cognitive behavioral therapy and indicated to improve outpatient treatment for substance use and opioid use disorders. PDTs use software to treat serious disease and once they are evaluated and authorized by regulators, they are used under the supervision of a prescribing clinician.

In Wisconsin, synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, were identified in 91% of opioid overdose deaths and 74% of all drug overdose deaths, with fentanyl overdose deaths growing by 97% from 2019 to 2021.

The state is making reSET and reSET-O available in a variety of outpatient treatment settings.

“The state of Wisconsin is making a difference for those struggling with addiction by expanding access to evidence-based treatment and recovery services,” said Strandberg. “We have a shared goal to ensure that people living with substance and opioid use disorders have every opportunity for favorable outcomes for recovery.”

Earlier, Pear had partnered with the South Carolina Department of Corrections to provide both PDTs to women incarcerated at the Camille Griffin Graham Correctional Institution.

“Pear and the South Carolina Department of Corrections intend to integrate innovative clinically validated technologies into the treatment paradigm to combat addiction and support those at-risk,” Strandberg said. “Our prescription digital therapeutics are designed to help patients on the path to recovery while our clinician dashboard allows counselors to monitor patient progress.”

Both reSET and reSET-O have been studied in randomized controlled trials with the findings published in peer-reviewed medical journals. The studies found the PDTs have the potential to improve real-world health outcomes and decrease treatment costs.

A recent study in The American Journal of Addictions presented findings of a real-world observational analysis that demonstrated high rates of engagement, retention, and abstinence from substances for patients using the reSET treatment through 12 weeks.