The Psilocybin Supply Chain: An Evidence-Based Review
This article was originally published on Microdose Psychedelic Insights, and appears here with permission.
Psilocybin, the active ingredient in “magic mushrooms”, might still be a schedule I drug, but it’s recent demand for research and clinical use is already unprecedentedly high. The recent clinical trials utilizing psilocybin and their groundbreaking results has brought it to the verge of becoming a clinically approved medication. As more researchers and organizations rush to further uncover the therapeutic mysteries and mechanisms of psilocybin, the need for a steady, consistent supply chain is rapidly increasing.
Psygen is one company that has taken upon themselves to produce both non-GMP and GMP grade synthetic psilocybin for pre-clinical and clinical research, as well as for commercial drug use. The demand for their product is so high that they have found themselves adding new clients to a waitlist with material unavailable until their commercial lab is completed in 2022. While they acknowledge that demand for psilocybin and the expansion of psychedelic research and therapeutics is a good thing, it is clear this enthusiasm also highlights the emerging industry need for a steady psilocybin supply chain. This guide will explore the role Psygen is playing in this dynamic and evolving psilocybin sector of the psychedelic industry.
What Is A Supply Chain?
The term “supply chain” refers to the mechanism by which items are manufactured, processed and distributed for consumers to buy and utilize. In the case of something like psilocybin, the core components could be psilocybe cubensis mushrooms.
However, current production methods render the process of large-scale psilocybin extraction from magic mushrooms much too expensive and impractical. Furthermore, considering these drugs will often be used in a clinical research and therapy setting, the need for consistent, reproducible psilocybin formulations is crucial. This is especially true since the amount of psilocybin in a mushroom can vary by several fold–even among the same strain, depending on growing conditions, time of harvest and other factors. As such, the need for consistency and reproducibility has required the need for high-quality synthetic psilocybin production on a large scale.
Psilocybin Support Translates to Unprecedented Demand
Currently, the recent excitement surrounding psilocybin research has translated into enormous demand for high-quality synthetic psilocybin for clinical use. In fact, the team at Psygen has already used up all their materials for production in their pilot project and have all their psilocybin spoken for until the opening of their new commercial lab. As the wave of excitement surrounding psilocybin research expands, so will the need for better and more cost-efficient large-scale production practices.
Right Opportunity, Right Place, Right Time: Psygen’s Advantageous Position
The team at Psygen has seized upon a massive opportunity in the emerging field of psychedelic medicine. Since the current and future clinical use of psilocybin already requires high-quality GMP grade synthetic psilocybin, the high demand is expected.
Additionally, the team at Psygen is poised to be the fastest group to provide this large scale supply chain scale up. This is because, much like the cannabis and hemp industries, there are some significant barriers to entry into psilocybin production, most notably, money and time. To get Psygen’s current manufacturing facility up and running required a dealers license from Health Canada, which takes nine months. Add to that the certification of the lab and all its equipment, which could take up to a year, and Psygen is at least 1-2 years ahead of the competition.
Finally, synthetic psilocybin production isn’t easy and requires an experienced team of scientists and researchers, which Psygen has. With revenue already coming in and sales guaranteed for the next two years, Psygen is certainly positioned for continued success in the early days of this emerging market.
The FDA’s Coveted “Breakthrough Therapy” Means Expedites Trials and the Need For More Psilocybin Even Faster
The simultaneous rise of mental illness and decline of effective treatments put the remarkable results of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy in a powerful position to shift the current treatment paradigm. A 2018 study in Frontiers in Pharmacology states “Clinical results so far have shown safety and efficacy, even for “treatment resistant” conditions, and thus deserve increasing attention from medical, psychological and psychiatric professionals.”1
As expected, this excitement is driving sales of the existing synthetic psilocybin supply–perhaps faster than expected. We touched base with the sales and marketing manager of Psygen to find out just how significant that demand really is.
The demand for synthetic psilocybin has been unprecedented. We could not be happier with the interest and are working diligently to complete sales with nineteen clients from various corporations, researchers and non-profits. Our mission to provide non-exclusive supply agreements is what seems to attract customers. We will continue to do so as we complete our commercial lab and the ability to scale up production in the next 2-3 years. -Nadia Van der Heyden, Sales and Marketing Manager
The Projected Bottleneck for Synthetic Psilocybin
As demand for psilocybin rises, the likelihood of a bottleneck effect in the psilocybin supply chain is becoming increasingly likely. Currently, researchers are attempting all sorts of novel ways to ramp up production–including the utilization of yeast in a process similar to that of brewing beer.2 With the opening of their commercial lab, they hope to be able to scale up their production significantly to help meet the growing demand for this novel medicine. Developing novel technologies and techniques for scaling up production of psilocybin will require firms like Psygen to continue their steadfast research and development efforts.
Looking Ahead to the Future of the Global Psilocybin Supply Chain
As psychedelic science continues its bold revival in the modern age, managing the global supply chain of psychedelic drugs is becoming increasingly important. As discussed in this piece, the demand for compounds like psilocybin is already skyrocketing. Furthermore, beyond establishing a steady supply chain, it is equally necessary to also plan for inevitable disruptions. For instance, the current pandemic has had a significant impact on the global cannabis supply chain. Fortunately, organizations such as Cybin Corp, Usona Institute, Compass Pathways and Psygen are leading the charge to a brighter future where these compounds can be safely accessible to all those who need it.
1. Schenberg, E. E. Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy: A Paradigm Shift in Psychiatric Research and Development. Front. Pharmacol. 9, (2018).
2. Milne, N. et al. Metabolic engineering of Saccharomyces cerevisiae for the de novo production of psilocybin and related tryptamine derivatives. Metab. Eng. 60, 25–36 (2020).
Read the original Article on Microdose Psychedelic Insights.
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