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Online pharmacy startups have pledged to make it faster and easier than ever to get needed medications. But a high-profile series of setbacks is calling into question whether the realities of drug prescribing are clashing with those promises.

In recent weeks, major brick-and-mortar pharmacy chains have stopped filling prescriptions for Adderall and other controlled stimulants sent in by some telehealth providers including from Cerebral, an online mental health company that has come under fire for its prescribing practices and its online advertisements touting an easy way to get treated for ADHD. On Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Truepill — Cerebral’s “preferred pharmacy partner,” which completes online orders for drugs prescribed by Cerebral’s clinicians — would also stop filling those stimulant prescriptions out of an “abundance of caution.”


Experts say the unfolding debate about online prescribing of ADHD drugs points to the broader, unanswered questions about how to best balance the best of what telehealth can offer — easier access to necessary care for more people — with its risks and the rapidly changing regulations that govern how patients are diagnosed and treated virtually.

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