This Ketamine-Assisted Therapy Company Is Developing New Ways To Treat Alcohol Addiction

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The addiction treatment and rehabilitation industry in the United States alone is worth almost $40 billion annually.

On top of that staggering amount, a lot of the current therapy to treat alcohol use disorder (AUD), for example, is reportedly not all that effective. Only 16% of people who suffer from AUD seek treatment, and of those who do, 75% will relapse within 12 months.

That’s what Awakn Life Sciences, a biotechnology company who is developing new ways of treating AUD claims. It says its ketamine-assisted therapy is more effective in such cases.

Awakn Life Sciences Corp. AWKN AWKNF, which already has a number of clinics in Europe, is now pushing into the U.S. where it plans to work with established addiction clinics to offer its treatment package. 

Ketamine is on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) essential list of medicines and was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as far back as 1970. It is used primarily  as an anesthesia and can lead to hallucinations and a trancelike state providing pain relief and sedation. It is also commonly used — illegally — as a recreational drug for its dissociative effects.

Based on Awakn’s latest published phase II a/b clinical trial, their ketamine-assisted therapy  resulted in 86% abstinence at six months post-treatment. In addition, the therapy showed a 2.7-times reduction in the chance of relapse compared to the placebo group, a statistically significant increase in liver function and a statistically significant reduction in depression. It also drastically reduced the probability of mortality, the company says.

Hiring To Aid Expansion?

Awakn has reported hiring a highly experienced pharmaceutical executive to aid its push into the U.S. — Kevin Lorenz will lead the company’s therapeutics commercialization activities, starting with the launch of Awakn’s licensing partnership business scheduled for the second half of 2022.

Lorenz, now the company’s U.S. head of commercial development, previously worked as senior regional sales Director at Alkermes plc ALKS where he oversaw the administration of Vivitrol, an FDA-approved medication for the treatment of AUD and OUD, in 32 states.

“Millions of people in the U.S. struggling with AUD need more effective treatment options, and Awakn is bringing innovation and new tools into this space,” Lorenz said at the time of his appointment.

Other companies in the ketamine and addiction treatment space include Ketamine One Capital MEDI and Atai Life Sciences NV ATAI.

In addition, Pasithea Therapeutics Corp. KTTA, offers ketamine infusion services to treat depression and other psychiatric conditions. Both Pasithea CEO Tiago Reis Marques and Awakn’s Chief Research Officer David Nutt are academics at Imperial College in London.

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