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Healthy outlook: Corey McCann, President and CEO of Pear Therapeutics

Pear Therapeutics offers FDA-authorized treatments for insomnia and substance abuse through prescription digital therapeutics, which use software to treat disorders. Corey McCann, president and CEO, talks with Acuris Capital Intelligence about the world of digital therapeutics and expanding access to treatments through healthcare technology.

Interview by Sydney Halleman

Q: Your recent SPAC merger with Thimble Point could give you approximately US$450 million cash on the balance sheet. What are your plans with that capital?

I think the first bucket is to continue to make our commercial products (reSET, reSET-O and Somryst) the mainstream standard of care. That means bringing on more prescribers and more insurance companies to provide reimbursement for the products.

Bucket two is developing our pipeline products. We're building the next set of products in mental and behavioral health—assets to treat depression, anxiety, bipolar, schizophrenia, PTSD, and more—to create a one-stop shop for any behavioral health indication. 

And bucket three is acquisitions. We've been highly acquisitive—I think we've done 16 different inbound deals, which constitute different license and acquisition structures. We're really a roll-up story and we see lots of interesting technologies being developed. But what we don't see are horizontal players that can create a structure to bring these assets to patients, so I think you'll see us continue to be fairly highly acquisitive.

Q: The term “digital therapeutics” has been thrown around a lot, especially as the use of telehealth and telemedicine increased during the pandemic. How does a patient get access to the treatment at Pear Therapeutics? Can your products be integrated into telemedicine?

Clinicians write prescriptions [for Pear Therapeutics] that have their own discrete product codes and we have a service called Pear Connect that bills your insurance with the use of the product—in some cases, it's the same pathway for drugs to get reimbursed. We also offer telemedicine services. For patients seeking treatments, they can go through our Somryst.com website and be paired with a non-affiliated clinician who is able to make a diagnosis and write a script. 

That's where this space is headed. We know that telemedicine is here to stay, but telemedicine is still deeply constrained by clinician volume. I think you'll have patients doing tele-encounters once a quarter, with digital therapeutics really interdigitating and becoming the lion's share of the care of patients.

Q: Pear Therapeutics has focused on the US so far, but could the company enter global markets?

There's a tremendous opportunity for prescription digital therapeutics outside of the US. Our products reSET, reSET-O and Somryst cover about 50 million Americans and about 850 million patients worldwide. I wouldn't be surprised to see us act upon that opportunity.

We have already sorted out licenses and done acquisitions with several different international groups. We also have our first ex-US market authorization in Singapore—we think that Asia is particularly interesting when it comes to digital therapeutics. 

Q: COVID-19 highlighted health disparities across the globe—how does digital therapeutics impact the equitable health landscape?

If you look at digital therapeutics broadly, we're really excited about being able to treat conditions better than they can currently be treated. But we're equally excited about the opportunity to bring treatments to patients that currently can't access them, and I think that gets lost in the shuffle. We do a good deal of business with Medicaid organizations and states like Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky offering these products to their indigent and Medicaid patient populations. 

For example, if you look at chronic insomnia, there are some states that lack a qualified human specialist to do what our Somryst product does. If you look at addiction, some maps show an anti-correlation between severity of addiction and availability of care. Being able to push what is an eminently scalable piece of software to these patients is a huge part of the value proposition.

A bit of background: Pear Therapeutics develops clinically validated software-based therapeutics for patients and offers smarter engagement and tracking tools for clinicians, as well as cost-effective solutions for payers. Prior to being named president and CEO of Pear Therapeutics, Corey McCann was an investor with MPM Capital, engagement manager with McKinsey & Company and has previous investment experience with RiverVest Venture Partners at NeuroInsights.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.