What’s the first thing that pops into your head when you hear the phrase “medical psychedelics”? Do you immediately picture “alternative” clinics full of hippies and trippy tapestry? What if we told you DARPA (the research and development agency of the U.S. Department of Defense) has funded the development of medications to treat mental illness and addiction using the biochemistry of psychedelics at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to the tune of $27 million dollars?
And… what if we also told you that DARPA’s $27 million dollars isn’t the only “legitimate” money going toward funding psychedelics-based medications to treat serious illnesses? Would those bits of information alter your perspective at all? Good, because it’s all true… this isn’t the 70s, and psychedelics aren’t for “tuning in and dropping out” anymore, they are serious medications for treating serious conditions that are hitting the world hard, let us tell you how.
First, before we go any further, let’s talk about what medical psychedelics are, and a little bit about the treatment promises they hold. Psychedelic medications are a set of substances, including plants and chemicals, that contain potent psychoactive properties used to treat a wide range of illnesses. The medications are administered, and they work their magic through changing perception, emotions, and other cognitive functions to help people heal. When appropriate, they are combined with traditional medications and therapy.
Now, let’s lay out some of the of substances we’re talking about when we say medical psychedelics… find out exactly what researchers are working with, and taking inspiration from. To name a few: GHB, Ketamine, MDMA, Psilocybin, DMT, Ayahuasca, and LSD. And the use cases are many… these treatments can be used for all kinds of health issues, such as depression and anxiety disorders, pain disorders, sleep-related disorders, trauma, addiction, PTSD and CPTSD, panic disorder, and opiate addiction.
It’s no coincidence that medical psychedelics research and funding is picking up right now, given the applications… because the entire world is currently seeing a sharp uptick in mental health, addiction, grief, and mood disorders. Recent studies from the Kaiser Family Foundation indicate that two out of every five adults in the U.S. are working through mental health issues. If we consider the underserved communities unable to access care and the stigma still (unfortunately) attached to speaking out, it’s not hard to imagine that number may be higher.
Now is the time, more people are looking for relief from the stresses of a complicated new world where loss and catastrophe are never far away. While this is grim information, we’re all grown-ups here, and these are facts. These facts must be addressed, and medical psychedelics are just one more tool in the medical professional’s toolbox to help alleviate some of the suffering. As such, the market for these treatments sat at $3.61 billion in 2021 and is estimated to reach $8.31 billion by 2028.
Deals To Watch
Investors and the public alike are clamoring for new treatment options. A population laden down with pills and potions has once again begun to seek alternative treatments, they are eyeballing plant medicines with renewed interest. And in a world where inflation is squeezing purses and resources, medical psychedelics can help fill gaps in care. So, who are we watching in this space? Two companies: Clearmind Medicine and Eleanor Health.
Clearmind Medicine is a Canadian pre-clinical pharmaceutical company and psychedelic drug developer working on novel psychedelic medicines to solve widespread, under-served health problems. They see psychedelic therapies as the future of treatment for a range of issues facing public health, such as eating and binge drinking disorders. Eating and binge drinking disorders fall under an umbrella term called AUDs, and that’s where the company’s short-term focus and flagship treatment currently reside.
AUDs are common and are increasingly becoming more so. Clearmind saw the opportunity to serve a wide base and began working on treatments. The company seeks to serve the sickest patients, who have often gotten to the point where their illnesses have them continuing destructive behavior even through the loss of jobs, relationships, and physical and mental health. The company, which currently trades on the Canadian Securities and Frankfurt exchanges has filed to raise up to $14 million through a NASDAQ uplisting.
Lead by General Catalyst, startup addiction and mental health care provider Eleanor Health has recently raised $50 million in series C funding. The company’s innovative, evidence-based care model offers services which range from peer recovery coaching to psychiatry. While they don’t develop medical psychedelics, their forward-thinking treatment model incorporates these therapies as part of a holistic approach tailored to each patient.
The company’s approach offers medicinal psychedelics therapies that work hand-in-hand with psychiatry, therapy, peer coaching, health navigation, and nurse case management. Based in Massachusetts, Eleanor Health was formed in 2019 by female founders Corbin Petro and Nzinga Harrison. Thus far, the company has scored regional partnerships, as well as a national deal with Aetna’s commercial business. If they continue their current trajectory, an IPO could be on the horizon.
Neşe Devenot is a researcher in the field of medical psychedelics with the University of Cincinnati… she has devoted her life to the study of the science, history, and culture of psychedelics. She has noted a “gold rush” of companies seeking to capitalize on the new work being done around these therapies. Given the possible applications and right mix of current conditions, we’re not surprised… and we intend to ferret out anyone worthy of my Buy List in this space. Keep coming back, and we’ll keep bringing you the latest news.