The ex-CEO of Cerebral says he was scapegoated by investors for the mental health startup's rampant prescribing of addictive drugs.  He requests access to the files to assess a possible trial.

The ex-CEO of Cerebral says he was scapegoated by investors for the mental health startup’s rampant prescribing of addictive drugs. He requests access to the files to assess a possible trial.

  • Former Cerebral CEO Kyle Robertson has just informed the company that he may be preparing for a lawsuit.
  • Robertson was kicked out in May amid concerns over Cerebral’s prescribing practices.
  • The letter demands that Robertson have access to internal Cerebral files.

Kyle Robertson, the former CEO of Cerebral, sent a letter to the company on Friday asking for access to documents he said could reveal that the company’s board of directors or executives mishandled the company. startup or broke the law.

The letter offers a scathing review of the board and Dr. David Mou, the top brain doctor who took over as chief executive after Robertson was forced out in May. The letter is the most detailed account to emerge of Robertson’s version of the story, after Cerebral widely blamed him as the driver of its prescribing practices.

“After Mr. Robertson’s removal, the board appointed Dr. Mou as CEO of Cerebral even though, as then-Chief Medical Officer, he was responsible for the very prescribing policies on which the government is currently investigating and for which Mr. Robertson was ostensibly fired,” the letter said.

The claims of the letter are extensive. He alleges that Cerebral investors, not Robertson, were largely behind the push to prescribe controlled substances, which are highly regulated and potentially addictive, and that Robertson, who is gay, was the subject of homophobic remarks from directors and senior managers.

Robertson will use the information obtained through the review to “evaluate potential litigation or other corrective action,” the letter says.

A spokesperson for Cerebral said Robertson’s claims are “categorically false and without merit in law and in fact.”

“These claims run counter to our culture of championing diversity and inclusion and are antithetical to what we stand for as a company,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “His dismissal was legitimately executed in the best interests of the company. We will vigorously defend against these claims.”

Robertson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Insider reported in June that thousands of internal company documents and interviews with more than 30 current and former employees suggested Cerebral was operating in blatant disregard for clinical standards by taking on serious patients it hadn’t. not the resources to treat and sometimes putting them on questionable treatment. plans.

For example, brain medical providers occasionally prescribed life-threatening combinations of drugs to patients, or prescribed addictive drugs to patients with a history of addiction, the documents suggest.

Former employees told Insider that Robertson pushed recruiters to hire faster and made interviews shorter, and that the quality of clinical hires suffered as the startup grew, Insider reported in June. Robertson has shown no interest in compliance issues, a former senior executive told Insider.

Still, Mou encouraged brain clinicians to prescribe quickly and widely.

He told staff that 95% of brain patients seeing a nurse should get a prescription, Businessweek reported earlier this year. He signed projects pushing for the broad prescription of stimulants in particular, according to the Wall Street Journal and documents seen by Insider.

Robertson wants to investigate possible violations of the law

Robertson specifically asks to investigate “possible breaches of fiduciary duty, mismanagement, and other violations of law” by Cerebral’s board and management, including senior executives.

The letter shows he is focused on Cerebral’s controlled substance prescribing policies and practices, which are under investigation by the Department of Justice, as Insider first reported in May.

Cerebral has come under scrutiny over the past year for generously prescribing potentially addictive drugs online, as reported by Bloomberg News and the Journal, and also for mishandling patient care. suffering from addictions and serious mental illnesses, as Insider reported in June.

In addition to the DOJ investigation, Cerebral is also under investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, as Insider first reported, and the Federal Trade Commission, as reported by the Journal.

In the letter, Robertson says he also wants to investigate an incorrect assessment of the company’s actions and possible discrimination against him based on his LGBTQ status. Robertson is gay and has said his sexuality affected his mental health growing up, which is part of the reason for launching Cerebral.

Robertson blamed Cerebral’s investors and board members

After his departure, Robertson argued that Cerebral’s board had made him a scapegoat for the startup’s problems, the Journal reported, which included a growing pile of federal investigations and government pushback. industry.

Robertson made similar allegations in his November letter, saying Cerebral’s “rapid and aggressive expansion” of its controlled substance prescribing practices was the result of pressure from major investors and board members.

Cerebral did not initially prescribe controlled substances as a company policy, the letter states. The company’s board and watchers, however, have sought to capitalize on the pandemic and the resulting loosening of regulations “by pushing aggressive prescribing practices that would attract and retain customers” and increase sales. income, according to the letter. The letter alleges that is why the board expelled Dr. Ho Anh, the company’s co-founder and former medical chief, and replaced him with Mou.

The letter named investors and board members of Oak HC/FT, WestCap, Access Industries, Prysm Capital and SoftBank. Spokespersons for WestCap and SoftBank said Cerebral’s statement to Insider reflects their views. Oak HC/FT, Access Industries and Prysm Capital did not respond to Insider’s requests for comment.

The letter alleges Charlie Young, a partner at WestCap, told Robertson that “the easier it is for people to get stimulants, the better it is for the company and its customers.” Another WestCap managing partner, Laurence Tosi, reportedly told Robertson’s partner, “This ADHD case is overwhelming and it’s a cash cow…Kyle needs to push this thing further,” according to the letter.

He also alleges that Nami Park, an investor who advised Access Industries, told Robertson that Cerebral needed to focus more on stimulants and that Access led Cerebral’s Series B funding round largely due to the launch. by Cerebral of prescriptions for ADHD.

The letter also claims that Oak managing partner and co-founder Annie Lamont told Robertson she was eager for Cerebral to push further into prescribing controlled substances and encouraged the company to acquire Ahead, another company. who prescribes stimulants for ADHD.

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