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First Prescription App for Substance Abuse Approved by FDA

App helps drug and alcohol users stay clean

3 min read
Pear Therapeutics receives FDA clearance for an app to treat substance use disorder
Photo: Pear Therapeutics

Drug and alcohol users will soon be able to get prescriptions for a mobile app that could help them stay clean. Developed by Pear Therapeutics in Boston and San Francisco, the app helps people recovering from addiction stay on track while participating in outpatient treatment. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week approved the prescription-only software for the American market. 

The FDA’s decision marks the first time in the United States that software has been approved to treat disease, says Corey McCann, founder and CEO of Pear Therapeutics. The company plans to make the digital therapeutic available commercially in 2018, he says. 

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Are You Ready for Workplace Brain Scanning?

Extracting and using brain data will make workers happier and more productive, backers say

11 min read
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A photo collage showing a man wearing a eeg headset while looking at a computer screen.
Nadia Radic
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Get ready: Neurotechnology is coming to the workplace. Neural sensors are now reliable and affordable enough to support commercial pilot projects that extract productivity-enhancing data from workers’ brains. These projects aren’t confined to specialized workplaces; they’re also happening in offices, factories, farms, and airports. The companies and people behind these neurotech devices are certain that they will improve our lives. But there are serious questions about whether work should be organized around certain functions of the brain, rather than the person as a whole.

To be clear, the kind of neurotech that’s currently available is nowhere close to reading minds. Sensors detect electrical activity across different areas of the brain, and the patterns in that activity can be broadly correlated with different feelings or physiological responses, such as stress, focus, or a reaction to external stimuli. These data can be exploited to make workers more efficient—and, proponents of the technology say, to make them happier. Two of the most interesting innovators in this field are the Israel-based startup InnerEye, which aims to give workers superhuman abilities, and Emotiv, a Silicon Valley neurotech company that’s bringing a brain-tracking wearable to office workers, including those working remotely.

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