Sonara Health, maker of a digital methadone management system, raised $3 million in a seed funding round led by First Trust Capital Partners and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas.
WHAT IT DOES
Founded in 2020, the Mark Cuban-backed startup has built a digital system to allow patients with opioid use disorder to take methadone at home while being monitored by a clinician.
Though requirements were loosened during the COVID-19 pandemic, methadone has typically been dispensed at federally regulated clinics, which often required patients to travel daily to receive their dose.
Sonara’s system includes a tamper-evident label for the medication plus a web application that allows patients to tape themselves while taking their methadone. An app for clinicians lets them remotely and asynchronously monitor patients’ use of the drug.
The company plans to use the seed capital to keep developing its platform and to partner with more opioid treatment programs.
“We receive messages from patients all the time letting us know that we have made their lives easier to stay on course with their recovery, those notes keep us going,” Dr. Michael Giles, CEO of Sonara Health, said in a statement.
Opioids continue to be a serious public health concern in the U.S. According to the CDC, overdose deaths involving opioids increased from about 70,000 in 2020 to more than 80,000 last year. Overall drug overdose deaths increased nearly 15% in 2021.
However, there is some evidence virtual care could help patients struggling with opioid use disorder access care. A recent study published in JAMA Psychiatry found that providing opioid use disorder-related telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic was associated with lower odds of medically treated overdoses and better retention with medications like methadone and buprenorphine.
Other digital health companies focused on addiction care and medication-assisted treatment include Bicycle Health, which raised $50 million in Series B funding this year; Boulder Care, which recently raised $36 million; and Ophelia, which scooped up $50 million in Series B funding last year.