Orexo didn’t plan to go as fast as it has in launching its digital therapeutics in substance abuse and mental health.
However, spurred by an FDA regulatory change in April, the company moved quickly to take advantage of the open door and to address the rising tide of substance abuse and mental health problems during COVID-19.
Since winning July FDA approvals, Orexo has launched digital and social media efforts for digital therapeutics Vorvida for problematic drinking and Deprexis for depression. It’s currently planning the debut of Modia, for opioid use disorder, for later this year.
For Vorvida, a 30-second video introduces the program with the tagline “Here’s to drinking less.” Scenes of young people socializing on a beach or around a campfire with wine or beer in hand appear on-screen as a voice-over talks about “drinking less and savoring more.”
Described as a discreet and confidential online program, Vorvida uses “proven cognitive behavior therapy techniques” to help people manage their drinking. Another video on the website walks viewers through the program, which is designed to help reduce drinking without completely quitting.
The site includes an option to buy Vorvida directly—e-commerce was added in September—for $750 for six months of access.
Orexo defines problematic drinking as more than five binge drinking episodes per month. Before the pandemic, there were an estimated 16.6 million people in the U.S. in that category.
“These problems were significant before the pandemic hit, and by every indication we’ve seen, they’ve already increased,” Dennis Urbaniak, Orexo’s executive vice president of digital therapeutics, said.
Deprexis is not a direct-to-consumer offering, but its website offers explanations about the program and a sign-up option for more information. It’s indicated as an add-on treatment for diagnosed mild, moderate or severe depression in adults.
Future campaigns for Orexo’s digital therapeutics will continue to focus heavily on digital, Urbaniak said, adding that mainstream media such as TV are not the right fit for the products.
The FDA ruling this spring that helped Orexo move more quickly was an ease in requirements for certain digital health products, meant to reduce physical contact between users and healthcare professionals.
Orexo’s trailblazing includes not only the accelerated timeline, but also the novelty of its digital therapeutics.
“Digital therapy is still really new, so there are not existing pathways to market and we have to work very differently. That’s really what we’ve been focused on since launch,” Urbaniak said.