The arrangement represents both a solution to an unmet medical need and a new market opportunity for the digital therapeutics firm.
A new partnership between a state corrections department and a digital therapeutics firm could play a key role in helping to curb substance use disorder (SUD) among a vulnerable population.
Pear Therapeutics Inc. this month announced a new partnership with the South Carolina Department of Corrections to provide Pear’s SUD and opioid use disorder (OUD) therapies to women incarcerated at the Camille Griffin Graham Correctional Institution in Columbia.
The arrangement marks a new effort to reach a population that is at high risk of SUD and OUD, and at high risk of overdose following release from incarceration. It also represents a potentially important new market for Pear, since the digital products can make it easier to deliver cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to large numbers of patients at a lower cost.
“We hope this can help break the cycle of addiction that afflicts so many of our incarcerated people,” said Bryan Stirling, director of South Carolina’s Department of Corrections, in a press release.
An estimate from the National Institute on Drug Abuse suggests about two-those of incarcerated people in the United States suffer from SUD. More than half of the remaing one-third were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time they committed the crime for which they were incarcerated, according to the institute's figures.
Under the terms of the agreement, people with SUDs and OUDs who are incarcerated at the Columbia facility will have access to Pear’s reSET and reSET-O therapeutics. Both products are prescription-only, so they will be provided to patients upon receipt of a prescription from a healthcare provider.
“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,” said Julia Strandberg, MBA, Pear’s chief commercial officer, in the press release.
Strandberg added that the digital format of the products makes it possible for clinicians and counselors to monitor patient progress as they use the therapeutics. reSET is designed to be used as CBT monotherapy for adults with SUD, while reSET-O is intended as combination therapy along with buprenorphine-based medication-assisted treatment of adults, the company said. Both reSET and reSET-O have been the subject of randomized clinical trials and have received authorization from the Food and Drug Administration to treat SUD and OUD, respectively.
Meara Murphy, a spokesperson for Pear, told Managed Healthcare Executive® that while this is the first collaboration Pear has reached with a state correctional facility, the company is working with eight states to provide its products to people with SUD and OUD in other settings.
“Given states are exposed to both the healthcare and societal costs associated with SUD and OUD, we believe PDTs are particularly compelling and can help increase accessibility to fight the addiction crisis by providing people in recovery, including those in a correctional setting, with access to evidence-based treatments through their mobile devices when and where they need it most,” she said.
In the case of the South Carolina collaboration, funding for the therapies is coming from the state’s Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services as part of a federal grant from the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.