As psychedelic research has gained public approval, multi-million dollar companies gather investment and are pushing psychedelic therapy closer to reality. This shift of psychedelics into the mainstream has been controversial in underground circles. But a donation of 5 million to NYU Langor Health does show potential for companies to make investors happy while contributing to programs potentially reaching beyond the company’s exclusive interest.
The company supplying the millions is Mind Medicine, and their vision is to recruit and train psychiatrists and clinical researchers to build out the necessary infrastructure to get their products safely into people’s bodies under proper supervision.
Mind Medicine is still riding the waves of recently going public and receiving support from investors. On the heels of Compass Pathways, a non-profit in hospice turned corporate has notably gathered 1.4 billion in recent weeks.
This early commitment to training new professionals is a necessary foresight, as programs certifying professionals to administer psychedelic therapy are currently in short supply.
From the mouths of MindMed Co-Founders J.R. Rahn and Stephen L. Hurst:
“In order for our industry and company to turn these once stigmatized substances into medicines, we need to build the critical training infrastructure in the United States to train clinical researchers, psychiatrists, mental health professionals and substance abuse counselors who will ultimately be our close partners in delivering these future potential therapies and medicines to millions of patients in need.”
This emerging industry’s challenge still lies in completing research trials with compounds like LSD, Psilocybin, DMT, and Ketamine scattered in various development stages.
Some of MindMed’s research is with LSD is nearing phase 3 approval programs to tackle anxiety. Along with a compound mimicking Ibogaine, a bush and root used traditionally used ceremonially in Africa, called 18-M, with potential for handling opioid addiction.
Once trials are complete creating infrastructure to connect patients with professionals to administer psychedelic-assisted therapy will be the next hurdle. Training programs are beginning to appear at institutions, companies, and non-profits.
Standards for psychedelic therapy have been around for some time, but modern research will ease regulatory minds and strengthen the path already laid to widespread psychedelic adoption.
The buzz around investment in psychedelics is different from the cannabis craze, as there is no serious push for recreational use. Targeting an already existing recreational market of millions of existing cannabis users seemed a straightforward and lucrative move several years ago.
However, the cannabis bubble has since exploded, with billions of investment pulled and hundreds of jobs gone across companies. Some do not have enough money to survive.
And psychedelic momentum on a trajectory to the territory where cannabis began it’s rise to the mainstream – medicine.
And an effective medicine at that. Early models of psychedelic therapies have, in some cases, shown a single psychedelic-assisted therapy session effective, even after many months. In one follow-up study for smoking cessation, 67% of patients had sustained changes in the habit over a year later.
These results are a parting of ways from the current system used by biotech and cannabis, where profit stems from chronic use of drugs to manage symptoms.
Profit seekers might hesitate at this new approach; it hardly seems sustainable from a business perspective. However, investors point out, there is no shortage of patients, as we live in what is described as a “mental health epidemic.”
In America, an estimated 42 million adults are affected by anxiety disorders, 19 million are affected by substance use disorders, and 17 million with depression. Psychedelic therapy from Mind Med and other companies targets these demographics. Current research has shown success in treating mental health conditions that may be the first significant advancement since SSRIs.
Cannabis showed that corporate money with a vested interest in gaining capital is highly effective at changing policy to favor the legalization of drugs that seemed untouchable several decades ago. Cannabis also showed the difficulty in overcoming the existing widespread use of a substance, with a well established black market still affecting weed prices.
Psychedelics have been an underground commodity for over 50 years. While the mainstream hype and solid research are changing the stigma of use, a clinical approach may not be attractive to those who now understand the benefits but can’t afford expensive therapy.
With venture capital pouring in, public companies must push towards securing intellectual property rights for novel treatments or drugs, as “classical psychedelics” cannot be patented.
These established “classical psychedelics” like LSD have been changing lives for decades, and fungi compounds like psilocybin mushrooms are grown en masse at a low cost, not to mention, grow naturally. The emerging psychedelic empire will need to produce novel substances to secure profits, certify trained professionals and create therapeutic settings that have made current results achievable.
The regulatory pathway to legal psychedelic therapy may be clear, but big companies like MindMed and Compass are not there yet. Years of research and policy creation lay ahead before clarifying the nature of the space emerging.
The tone, however, is optimistic.
Researchers are jumping on board with companies with money pouring into space, finally seeing an avenue for their until recently obscure research affecting public health.
Even pioneer psychedelic non-profit MAPS founder Rick Doblin is supportive that investment and innovation is a “good thing.” A kind statement as he may well be competing with these companies in the future.
The effectiveness of psychedelic treatments backed by long-needed funding shows promise for fresh solutions to mental health. How for-profit models will change psychedelic culture is unfolding daily. It seems clear the medicine has a place in public health, but how the for-profit model will develop is a story both above and underground alike are watching closely.
Where Langor Health will be after five years and 5 million, along with the entire emerging psychedelic industry, is an exciting prospect.