A year ago, more than 13% of adults said they had started or increased substance use to cope with the pandemic, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As in-person programs for substance use were put on hold, more people turned to telehealth.
Seeing a need, Quit Genius, a startup offering app-based tobacco cessation programs, expanded into alcohol use and substance use disorders last year. It recently raised $64 million in funding co-led by Kinnevik and Atomico, which it plans to use to expand across the U.S.
Quit Genius was co-founded in 2017 by three physicians in the U.K.: Drs. Yusuf Sherwani, Maroof Ahmed and Sarim Siddiqui. They designed it to be “the program we wish we had as physicians,” Sherwani, the company’s CEO, said in a news release.
All of its programs combine behavioral therapy through telehealth with approved medication and connected devices. For example, its tobacco cessation program includes a connected breathalyzer to detect nicotine levels, app-based exercises, coaching, and access to nicotine gum or patches.
A randomized, controlled trial of its smoking cessation app found that 44.5% of its users had not recently smoked four weeks after quitting, compared to 28.7% of people in the control group. The results were published in JMIR last year.
The company has seen significant growth in recent months. It said its revenue has increased tenfold in the last year, and that it now partners with 55 employers and health plans covering 2.1 million lives.
With the new funding, Quit Genius also plans to expand its telehealth coverage, even as regulations around telehealth coverage and the ability to prescribe some medications remotely are still in limbo.
“In the near term, we are aggressively expanding our provider network to cover the entire U.S. population across all 50 states,” Sherwani said. “Our goal is for everyone to have access to evidence-based treatment for tobacco, alcohol and opioid addiction on their own terms.”
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