Big Health acquires mental health app for teens
Big Health, a leading digital health company specializing in mental health apps has announced their acquisition of Limbix, a company developing apps that address teen and young adult mental health.
With the acquisition, Big Health’s portfolio will include SparkRx an app for teen and adolescent depression and another product in development that will address teen and adolescent anxiety. Big Health is best known for their two digital therapeutic products for adults; Sleepio for insomnia and Daylight for anxiety.
“Our portfolio of evidence-based, clinically validated digital treatments will enable a record number of adult and adolescent patients to get immediate access to safe and effective non-drug options,” said Arun Gupta, CEO and Executive Chairman of Big Health in the press release.
Since the pandemic, anxiety and depression rates in teens have increased but only a small fraction (20%) of them receive the necessary care and support. Big Health’s expansion into adolescent mental health care will meet a growing demand from customers and payers, executives said.
SparkRx is a “self-guided” smartphone app that uses cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) based treatment to address mental health concerns in people as young as 13 years old. Using features like mood tracking, behavioral activism, and mindfulness, SparkRx helps reduce depression symptoms in teens and recently published their clinical trial data to support these claims.
Initially developed as a prescription product, SparkRx has been accessible during clinical trials under a special pandemic-era Food and Drug Administration (FDA) enforcement policy. This policy permitted companies to launch apps designed to treat specific psychiatric conditions without meeting authorization requirements.
With the FDA’s enforcement set to revert to pre-pandemic rules in November and with clinical data in hand, it’s expected that Limbix would seek FDA approval. However, Big Health hasn’t sought out regulatory approval for any of its apps as of now even though they have all the clinical evidence they need.
Without FDA-approval, they might have to “roll back to a more wellness positioning,” rather than a clinical one, Gupta said.
The choice is strategic – payers are often resistant to covering prescription apps and by staying in the wellness space they might be able to reach more people.
“We must continue to rise to the challenge of the mental health crisis – our acquisition of Limbix is a strategic milestone in advancing our mission to help millions back to good mental health,” Gupta concluded.