Pear Therapeutics raises $64M, launches prescription app for opioid use disorder

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According to Pear, this is the first time a Big Pharma company has worked to sell a prescription digital therapeutic. (Pixabay)

SAN FRANCISCO—Pear Therapeutics has posted $64 million in new fundraising on the heels of scoring an FDA clearance last month for its prescription software to treat opioid addiction.

The round also closed on the eve of the app’s commercial launch, supported by its Big Pharma partner in Novartis’ Sandoz unit.

The reSET-O prescription digital therapeutic for opioid use disorder consists of a 12-week cognitive behavioral therapy program intended to be used alongside outpatient treatment. It includes buprenorphine, a standard medication for opioid addiction, while helping to reinforce positive behaviors through interactive therapy lessons.

But Pear is keen to develop, test and validate its apps as something akin to a stand-alone intervention, or software-as-a-drug—by using single-variable studies and the same traditional, gold-standard endpoint measures used in pharma-based trials—but wider adoption of the idea has been a long time coming.

RELATED: FDA clears Pear’s smartphone app therapy for opioid use disorder

“I think we're at an interesting tipping point,” said Pear’s CEO and president, Corey McCann, at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, describing how the company’s ideas have been received at the annual event.

“I joke a little that we've seen this evolution—where in the first year or two, people had no idea what we were talking about. After that, people acknowledged the idea but thought it was ridiculous,” McCann said.

“And then they knew what it was, but not what the business model looked like,” he said. “But now last year and this year, I think that they think it was all their idea—which is exactly where we want to be.”

RELATED: Novartis partners with Pear on digital therapeutics

The $64 million will be used to boost the global reach of Pear’s line of digital therapeutics, as well as acquire new assets and further its development pipeline, including products aimed at schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis. Along with Sandoz, the two companies have already deployed a dedicated sales force, with reSET-O now available to prescribers.

“This is the first time that pharma has ever sold a piece of software,” McCann said. “In that way, it’s an incredibly exciting event.”

Going forward, Pear will spend most of 2019 focused on demonstrating clinical uptake, efficacy and the product’s ability to be reimbursed.

“There’s no reason why a clinician should not be using the product—that said, that's not the way the world works,” he said. “This year will be all about developing proof points with clinicians and with patients, in order to firmly establish these products as first-line standard of care. We have a lot of work to do.”

The series C financing round was led by Temasek, with additional funding from Pear’s previous backers including Novartis, 5AM Ventures, Arboretum Ventures, Jazz Venture Partners, The Bridge Builders Collaborative and EBDI, based in Singapore. The Blue Water Life Science Fund, Trustbridge Partners and an unnamed diversified hedge fund also joined as new investors.