Pear Therapeutics, which is developing interventions that combine digital tools and medications, has raised $20 million in a round led by 5AM Ventures, Arboretum Ventures, and Jazz Venture Partners, with participation from Bridge Builders Collaborative. The company raised its last round, which was undisclosed, in March 2015.
The company, which has offices in Boston and San Francisco, was founded two years ago.
“My background is as a physician neuroscientist turned venture investor,” Pear Therapeutics CEO Corey McCann explained in an interview. “I was most recently with MPM Capital here in Boston. I spent a bunch of time looking at digital health through the lens of a drug developer. We were looking for digital health assets that had strong intellectual property, that had randomized clinical data supporting efficacy, and ultimately a path to reimburse-ability. While we were looking for that, we didn’t see too many companies in that space, and so instead we started Pear to fill the gap.”
McCann founded the company with Steven Kennedy Smith, who previously served as Deputy Campaign Manager for Senator Edward Kennedy during his presidential and senatorial campaigns. Smith also worked with two organizations focused on mental health, the Kennedy Forum and One Mind for Research.
The company was named Pear Therapeutics in part because the company is pairing drugs and software, McCann said. And also because Apple taught them that all tech companies named after fruits turn out to be "wildly successful", McCann joked.
Pear Therapeutics’s product, called eFormulations, combines medication for a specific condition with a digital therapy program. The eFormulations product will be prescribed by physicians to their patients. Depending on the patient's condition, the software component of the offering could include games, tracking tools, and other engagement features.
Pear Therapeutics will use the funds to launch its first eFormulations, called reSET and reSET-O, which are designed to treat substance use disorder (SUD). The reSET program, a mono therapy offering, includes a smartphone app for patients and a web-based program for clinicians. reSET-O combines the mechanics of reSET with pharmacotherapy for opiate dependence.
Pear Therapeutics will submit reSET for FDA clearance in the first half of 2016. The company will likely send reSET-O to the FDA in the second half of 2016. The reSET-O submission, McCann said, is contingent on the timeline of the reSET clearance.
The two offerings have been tested in six randomized clinical trials that studied 1,500 patients with SUD. In one of the studies, conducted across 10 treatment centers, Pear Therapeutics split 399 patients, who had SUD as a result of cocaine, alcohol, cannabis, and stimulants, into two groups. In one group, patients were given face-to-face therapy and in another, patients used reSET instead of talking to a therapist. The researchers found that those using reSET had significantly higher rates of abstinence and higher rates of retention in treatment.
The next products that Pear Therapeutics plans to commercialize include one for schizophrenia, followed by chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, general anxiety disorder, major depressive disorder, and insomnia.
Another company working on digital therapeutics for mental health, Akili Interactive Labs, raised $30.5 million a few months ago. Jazz Venture Partners also contributed to this round. Akili’s offering, a video game designed to treat cognitive issues, called Project: Evo, is based on research from UCSF.