Are startups fuelling addiction?

Is this going to be the future of telemedicine too?

This is an interesting post on WSJ.

Startups Make It Easier to Get ADHD Drugs. That Made Some Workers Anxious. – WSJ

Digital health startups that provide diagnoses and medications online for ADHD are following a familiar Silicon Valley playbook: They’re using software and the internet to remove the friction surrounding a service that is in high demand. Instead of a ride or groceries, this time it’s prescription drugs. Two of the most prominent new providers of these services for ADHD patients are Cerebral and Done Health, which now treat tens of thousands of patients online and have well-known supporters from the worlds of venture capital and sports.

I can’t reliably comment on the ADHD, but linked to the write up for the abuse of social media networks. I have been always been stating for the right measure here – while digital ad spending is likely to increase drastically, it is a completely unregulated area.

Cerebral spends millions of dollars a month for online ads on TikTok, Instagram and Google, according to people familiar with the figure. Done’s advertising budget couldn’t be learned. The social-media ads said ADHD can be associated with symptoms such as “overthinking” and “losing track of time” in the case of Done or “mood swings” and “stress” in the case of Cerebral. Cerebral’s Instagram ads sometimes end with a shot of a pill bottle arriving in a package.

Mental health is getting increased focus, and I have a strong reason to believe mainstream media prepares the ground for writing about “depression.” Once the search engines learn about individual preferences, they normalize these behaviors and create health seeking patterns for “stimulants”.

Here’s a quote from a clinician:

A 30-minute visit is much shorter than a typical diagnosis conducted in traditional psychiatric settings. Those appointments can take hours and involve detailed interviews and questionnaires, according to physicians specializing in ADHD treatment.

But the influx of people demanding an Adderall prescription became so overwhelming that she asked to no longer appear to potential customers as someone able to prescribe controlled substances. That way, patients clicking a button wouldn’t be able to select her as their clinician. Ms. Wibby also said many patients claimed TikTok ads convinced them they had ADHD instead of anxiety or depression, which can require different treatment plans.

This isn’t surprising.

Sometime back, I read a quote from a clinician around healthcare workers marking their presence on social media (especially TikTok). He didn’t follow up on my emails for discussion/comment. It’s fine. I hope he reads this to understand the negative effect of healthcare startups marketing through social media.

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