Annum Health abruptly ends operations

The digital alcohol abuse support service was founded in 2016, raised $6.4 million and had recently announced a collaboration with Cigna.
By Dave Muoio
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New York City-based Annum Health, a digital health startup focused on using digital health tools to curb alcohol abuse, is shutting down its operations today, according to a notice published on the company’s website.

“Over the last two years, Annum created and brought to market a more effective solution to engage and treat the many millions of people who struggle with heavy drinking,” reads the message on Annum’s website. “We are especially proud to have contributed to the growing dialogue amongst large employers and health plans seeking better ways to help employees and families to address this pervasive but largely overlooked issue. Thank you.”

Annum was launched in 2016 by former AbleTo cofounder and CEO Michael Laskoff (CEO), Lauren Wolfe (chief clinical officer) and Dr. Mark Willenbring (chief medical officer). Built for employers and insurers, the startup’s alcohol abuse support program combines a mobile app for daily check-ins and social support, video consultations with physicians and phone therapy sessions.

According to Crunchbase, Annum had raised a total of $6.4 million from .406 Ventures, AXA Venture Partners, Canaan Partners, ARC Angel Fund, Elevate Innovation Partners and ARC Angel Fund. This closure comes about two-and-a-half months after Annum had announced a pilot partnership with Cigna, which the startup billed as its first with a health service company.

MedCityNews confirmed the closure with Laskoff, who cited “an unforeseen change in our financial circumstance that ultimately could not be overcome” in an email. MobiHealthNews has also reached out for comment, and will update this story with any response.

Why it matters

Before closing its doors, Annum often pointed to alcohol’s health risks and the $82 billion in lost workplace productivity attributable to heavy drinking. The startup also noted alcohol’s frequent presence among employer social events, and how these and other commonplace events could place employees at risk of binge drinking.

While the specifics around exactly why Annum shut down are still under wraps, at least two things are certain: backers are out of their investments, and employees at risk of alcohol abuse have one less resource to turn to.

What’s the trend

Even with Annum’s closure, there are a handful of apps and digital health services tackling substance abuse or addiction. Hayver and Sobercoin, for instance, use cryptocurrency as an incentive in their substance abuse recovery apps, while WEconnect’s addiction recovery counselling and support service recently raised just over $6 million.

In addition, a handful of bills have been proposed and passed that would fund telehealth technologies as an answer to substance abuse.

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