Big Health, a developer of digital therapeutics for insomnia and anxiety, is acquiring Limbix and its SparkRx adolescent depression therapeutic.
The deal was announced Thursday. Terms were not disclosed.
Big Health plans to run more clinical trials on SparkRx's effectiveness and expand its availability to Big Health’s employer, public sector, health system and health plan customers. Big Health's lineup includes Sleepio for insomnia and Daylight for anxiety.
The company, which has raised nearly $130 million in funding since its 2012 founding, sees teenage mental health as an area with a lot of unmet need, said CEO Arun Gupta.
“There's a real storm brewing around the health of our teens and young people, particularly around depression and anxiety, and the inability of the current system to really even remotely meet that need,” Gupta said. “This is a strategic area that has come up a lot for us…where it seems clear that digital therapeutics could really shine as the treatment modality.”
Limbix has raised $30 million since it was founded in 2016.
The digital therapeutics industry is in flux after Pear Therapeutics, which had been one of its most notable companies, declared bankruptcy in April and sold off its assets in May. Among industry stakeholders, there is a growing acknowledgment that digital therapeutics companies need to develop more sustainable business models. Many therapeutics are not covered by insurers. Gupta said Sleepio and Daylight are reimbursed by some health plans but the company isn't yet profitable.
Some companies and advocates look to avoid a repeat of the Pear scenario by focusing on reimbursement pathways. The Digital Therapeutics Alliance, an industry group, went to Capital Hill in June to lobby for the Prescription for Digital Therapeutics Act, introduced in the Senate in March by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.).
Gupta said evidence matters more to Big Health’s success than specific regulatory pathways. “We think we’ll continue to have a lot of options around whether or not we want to pursue this as a clear [Food and Drug Administration]-cleared treatment or as more of a wellness product,” Gupta said.