By Jake Sherman
Investors and market players are beginning to notice the psychedelic companies emerging from this thriving sector, as the breakthrough research continues to take root. Governments have a history of hindering psychedelic research since the 1960s, but legislation today is evolving rapidly. Notably, Oregon became the first state to legalize psilocybin mushrooms last month. And growing acceptance nationwide leaves a wide-open road for 21st century innovation in the field, with quite a few psychedelic companies to watch.
In what would’ve been unthinkable 20 years ago, psychedelic companies are listing on major stock exchanges, bringing the space further into the mainstream. There’s even a psychedelics stock index. Its founder, Frank Lane, recently told PsyTech that “more capital and investor interest will flow into the psy market” as a result of these public offerings. And, he says, “as psychedelics prove to help treat mental illness without opioids, more government agencies will explore their use.” This is good news all around.
Bloomberg reported in April that “the antidepressant drug market alone was valued at around $13.7 billion in 2018.” By this year, the paper said, that number was expected to grow by 24%, underscoring the sector’s potential. Psychedelics offer treatment options with success rates that dwarf conventional treatments for depression, PTSD, and addiction, to name a few. As a result, psychedelics companies are getting a quick jump out of the gate, and show no signs of slowing down. Here are six companies in the space to keep your eye on.
ATAI Life Sciences
Berlin-based biotech company ATAI recently made headlines when billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel led a $125 million funding round. The company is developing a drug development platform for innovative mental health solutions and backs psychedelic and conventional therapies. ATAI says its model “combines funding, access to accelerative platform technologies, as well as scientific and regulatory expertise.” Several of its drugs are currerntly in Phase 2 trials.
Both ATAI and Thiel invested in Compass Pathways, which developed a synthetic version of psilocybin. Compass went public on the NASDAQ in September and is now valued at $1.3 billion. COMP360 is in Phase 2b trials and is slated for distribution to US and European health care providers upon approval. Interestingly, Compass isn’t fully on board with Oregon’s recent vote to legalize psilocybin. In fact, CEO George Goldsmith said there isn’t enough evidence yet for psilocybin therapy’s safety or effectiveness. He believes that clinical trials of COMP360 will prove Compass’s drug superior. Time will tell if legislators and practitioners agree.
What would a ‘who’s who’ roundup be without a shameless plug? Tovana, a division of PsyTech, is a digital platform that manages safe, personalized, protocol-driven, and data-supported psychedelic-assisted therapy. The platform measures and tracks patient data to help doctors and patients gauge how therapy is progressing and make any necessary adjustments. Tovana’s offering includes a therapist dashboard, patient app, and patient wearable. The tools provide important real-time measurements and enable practitioners to customize solutions for their patients and adjust treatments according to their precise needs. These valuable innovations position Tovana among the psychedelic companies worth watching.
Drug development company MindMed is small but strong, and has ambitious plans to tackle a range of afflictions. These include anxiety and cluster headaches, for which it’s developing LSD-assisted treatments. But for now, it shows even more promise on two major fronts: ADHD and addiction. MindMed’s addiction medication, 18-MC, is a non-hallucinogenic compound derived from ibogaine. Following its current Phase 1 trials, MindMed hopes to progress to Phase 2 by year’s end. The company’s ADHD therapy, featuring psilocybin and LSD microdosing, is already in unprecedented Phase 2 trials.
Numinus is the first publicly traded company in Canada authorized to conduct research on psilocybin extraction. Its stated goal is to help treat mental illness, trauma, and addiction – and it looks poised to do so. While Numinus is currently only doing business domestically, an export license will mean that it can expand operations if the climate in the US starts to warm towards psychedelics. The recent vote in Oregon may well lead to the appearance of Numinus labels in the US.
Entheon Biomedical wants to treat the underlying causes of addiction, not just its symptoms. The company operates under the principle that untreatable cases should be the exception, not the rule. They believe DMT holds the answer. Founder and CEO Timothy Ko did not arrive at this conviction lightly – he lost his brother to substance abuse. As he told PsyTech in a recent interview, the experience propelled him to find a solution. Ko even said that psychedelics helped him personally. “I credit psychedelics with providing me a life preserver about seven years ago when I reached a therapeutic block and found myself in a very dark place,” he told PsyTech. The company went public last month and is on track to provide real help to those in need.