đź©ş Telehealth under scrutiny

Tuesday, May 10, 2022 by Robinhood Snacks |
Telehealth under scrutiny (MirageC/Getty Images)

Telehealth under scrutiny (MirageC/Getty Images)

Telehealth under scrutiny (MirageC/Getty Images)

Telehealth under scrutiny (MirageC/Getty Images)

Yesterday’s Market Moves
Dow Jones
32,246 (-1.99%)
S&P 500
3,991 (-3.20%)
11,623 (-4.29%)
$31,060 (-8.72%)

Hey Snackers,

Fighting the climate crisis one burp at a time: California has approved a new type of seaweed that, when fed to dairy cows, cuts methane emissions from bovine belches in half.

New week, new sell-off: stocks sank again yesterday, pulling the S&P to its lowest point in more than a year. Bitcoin fell 10%, to below $31K, its lowest price since last summer.


1. Regulators investigate mental-health startup Cerebral, signaling an end to telehealth’s Wild West

Over prescribed… and under investigation. This weekend, online mental-health startup Cerebral said it’s been subpoenaed by the feds over its pill-prescription practices. Refresher: the FDA changed the rules to allow virtual prescriptions during the pandemic — even for ADHD meds like Adderall, which are easily abused. Last year, ADHD drug prescriptions jumped 10% from 2020, and critics worry telehealth startups have become digital pill mills:

  • In March, Bloomberg and the WSJ reported that Cerebral and Done pushed workers to prescribe ADHD meds after 30-minute video sessions.
  • In response, Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, and startup Truepill reportedly stopped distributing ADHD meds for telehealth startups, with Cerebral also pausing new ADHD scripts.

Robo-therapy roller coaster… It’s not just ADHD: rates of anxiety and depression spiked 25% during the pandemic, the WHO said. So did investment in mental-health startups: nine of them (including Cerebral) hit unicorn valuations ($1B+). But many execs at these fledgling companies have no medical background, and some have been accused of using Silicon Valley strategies that prioritize growth over patient care:

  • Viral marketing: Cerebral reportedly spends millions on ads on TikTok, Insta, and Google each month; some patients say TikTok ads convinced them they had ADHD.
  • D2C pill subscriptions: Cerebral and Done charge patients a monthly fee, meaning they earn more from long-term prescriptions.

Telemedicine is pharma’s Wild West… and the Cerebral case could mean regulators are ready to play sheriff. The telehealth model exploded during Covid, when VC-funded startups took a page out of tech’s "growth at all costs" playbook to scale fast. But a one-size-fits-all telehealth model may not work as well for complex diagnoses like ADHD as it does for common ailments like the flu — and this tele-Adderall crackdown could signal more regulation to come.


Swapping face masks for lip kits… Saturday nights are back. As more of us get glammed up for social soirees, multistep skin-care routines are taking a back seat. Beauty giant Coty — home to names like CoverGirl and Kylie Cosmetics — saw sales jump 15% last quarter. It’s expecting an even bigger profit bump this year thanks to the return of IRL events.

  • Like bees to honey: Coty's portfolio of luxe fragrance lines grew 20% as middle-seat-bound travelers splurged on name-brand sprays from Burberry and Gucci.
  • Clean face: Coty’s CEO said natural cosmetics (think: vegan, eco-friendly ingredients) were also a key growth driver, a trend that took off during the pandemic.

Welcome to the makeup renaissance… where cosmetic giants from Estée Lauder to L’Oréal post record sales as you ditch the couch for a night out. In the US, shoppers are using their extra $$ to splurge on TikTok-inspired beauty trends and eye-popping palettes. Last year, US “prestige beauty” sales (think: department-store brands like Clinique) rose 30% from the year before, topping pre-pandemic levels. Now:

  • In stores: Beauty retailers like Sephora and Ulta have seen foot traffic jump 25% compared to last year.
  • Online: Coty said its e-commerce sales rose double digits, even after hiking prices to keep up with higher packaging and ingredient costs.

Don’t call it a cosmetics comeback… at least not yet. Coty’s still at the mercy of all the usual economic headwinds (supply backups and inflation). Plus, WFH and flexible work situations have sent weekly makeup usage down 28% compared to 2019. Coty’s premiumization (think: fancy-fied products it can charge extra for) has kept sales strong. But the stock hasn’t caught up: Coty shares are down 25% this year.

What else we’re Snackin’

  • Connect: The White House is offering low-income families $30 monthly stipends for high-speed internet to help bridge the “digital divide.” Over 11M households have applied for the subsidy, but many more qualify.
  • Unload: Rivian’s stock plummeted 20% after Ford, one of its biggest backers, dumped $8M worth of shares in the EV maker. Rivian’s IPO lockup ended Sunday, giving investors the chance to cut their stake.
  • Austerity: Uber is the latest to cut back on spending given the tumble in tech stocks. The ride-hailer’s CEO told employees that the focus should be on free cash flow and that hiring is to be treated as a “privilege.”
  • JPEG: Instagram will start experimenting with NFTs this week, letting a small group of users display digital tokens in their feeds. The test comes after reports suggesting the NFT market is “collapsing.”
  • Bottle: A US shortage of baby formula is getting worse, with 40% of formula brands out of stock at retailers nationwide. The shortage has been exacerbated by the FDA’s shutdown of an Abbott facility tied to a recall.

Snack Fact of the Day

The Nasdaq — down 27% this year — has given up all its 2021 gains


  • Earnings expected from Sony, Wynn Resorts, Sysco, Electronic Arts, Coinbase, GlobalFoundries, Fox Corp., Warner Music Group, Aramark, Planet Fitness, Peloton, and SoFi

Authors of this Snacks own: Bitcoin and shares of Coty, Ford, Google, Walmart, Uber, and CVS

ID: 2193918