(Part four of a four-part series)
In addition to psilocybin’s therapeutic value, ongoing discussion involves other issues such as how its potential commercialization process is unfolding. In terms of ethics, Numinus NUMIF co-founder and CEO Payton Nyquvest said his concern over the fact that “if we’re too quick to just open up access, knowing human beings and the way that we operate, we could miss the therapeutic opportunity.”
Longtime therapists and activists believe that neither medical authorities nor regulators should hold the power to keep these compounds away from those who need them. On the other hand, psychedelics research and development, including clinical trials high costs.
The not-for-profit Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelics (MAPS) has been performing MDMA studies for PTSD since as early as 2000, yet now faces the changing scenario of the cause’s popular embrace, which is in turn leading to a gold rush and to people preferring to make an investment rather than a donation. “For 36 years, we have been entirely powered by philanthropy and grants. And that is now changing. You could say that we’re a victim of our own success,” said MAPS' founder Richard Doblin.
With the commercialization potential broadening, initially nonprofit company Compass Pathways CMPS started patenting its synthesized psilocybin and a proprietary psychedelic therapy then went public in 2020, attaining a market value of nearly a billion dollars.
Pathways' co-founder and executive chairman George Goldsmith defends this option as the best way to bring a promising treatment to the masses. “The cost of doing that at scale through a regulated model is unfortunate but true. There’s no way to do discounted clinical trials.”
One of the company’s critics, Carey Turnbull founded the nonprofit Freedom to Operate to counter Compass’ claims when scientific experts found that the company's synthesized molecule was not new but a blend of older formulas. Nonetheless, the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board dismissed Turnbull’s appeal for “post-grant review” of the patents in June 2022.
Numinus' Nyquvest also took a critical stance towards an aggressive commercial approach saying “it’s getting in the way of accessibility,” like many resources that have been introduced to the space with the idea of creating novel products for financial benefit. He further suggests that psilocybin “will probably just be generic” and people will be able to choose among products, and that “there’s going to be a number of people that would prefer a natural event.”
The fact is that Numinus also holds an IP protection strategy, yet attempts to be more ethically aligned with patients’ needs.
In 2021, the company filed patent applications on rapid production techniques for natural psychedelic mushroom types and is currently studying whether other compounds in mushrooms, besides psilocybin, may potentially enhance their therapeutic benefit and possible delivery mechanisms such as pills, liquid formulations and tea.
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