EXCLUSIVE: NYC Ketamine Center Co-Founder On Prices, Insurance, Competition & Expansion

This is the third article of a three-part series, you can find the first and second stories here. 

Ketamine-assisted therapy has been in the headlines lately as several clinics have closed down and others reaffirmed they are continuing to be providers of these services. 

One example is NYC-based Nushama, whose co-founder Jay Godfrey replied to a couple of industry inquiries in a recent interview with Benzinga.

Accessibility

How did ketamine become so broadly prescribed and administered? Godfrey suggests that “the overhang and the halo effect” of ketamine therapy's efficacy under medical supervision is partly responsible for its inclusion in the COVID extension of the Ryan Haigh Act waiver, though oversight and regulation are necessary, as well as thoughtfulness in terms of who administers these medications, how, and to whom and where.

Most patients come to Nushama directly, though a small portion are referred by psychiatrists, psychologists, primary care physicians or addictions specialists.

The clinic’s ketamine therapy main protocol is $4,500 though discounts and alternative payment plans are available for veterans and first responders. An 8-member group therapy discount, which cuts the price in half, and scholarships are also available. 

“About 15% of patients get what we call the ‘hero’s journey’ discount (veterans and first responders, including nurses, doctors and school teachers). Since we have offered it, the demographics of our members base have changed drastically,” Godfrey told Benzinga.

Godfrey confirmed that classic insurance companies are not yet including psychedelic therapy, though the clinic is in discussions with third-party administrators like Enthea

Competition And Business Growth

Godfrey noted that the NYC population is so vast and the need for these kinds of therapies is so great that not even filling every Nushama room every single hour of every day would cover the current demand.

While the brand is planning to expand its clinic services most likely to Philadelphia, Washington DC, Boston, Toronto and Florida, they're facing two general constraints.

“One, fundraising markets are not what they were, let’s call it, in 2020 and 2021, so we are being cautious; but also and more importantly, psychedelics companies should see these medicines as sacred tools. So before spreading the Earth with Nushama locations, we want to make sure we are doing this right in every location, and part of that is finding the right doctor in every city and the right set of nurses and medical assistance, as well as location,” Godfrey says.

Also, the co-founder positions Nushama as “molecule agnostic,” meaning once other psychedelics are approved for use in the mental health treatment space, they will administer “so long as we feel we can do it safely and according to the standards that we feel are necessary.”

Godfrey believes all these other molecules will never be self-administered at home, and that the drug development community, including COMPASS CMPS, MindMed MNMD, atai ATAI and Small Pharma OTCMKTS: DMTTF), recognizes that they are going to require, even before legalization, sites that are responsible to conduct clinical research. 

Requirements would include clinics with experience in psychedelic administration that can act as delivery channels for these medicines.

That’s why, Godfrey confirms that conversations have begun between Nushama and these psychedelics-developing companies, adding that it is still too early to determine what psilocybin or MDMA legalization would look like in clinical practice.

Photo: Benzinga edit with photo by Sonis Photography and Hananeko_Studio on Shutterstock and Nushama.

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Posted In: CannabisNewsPenny StocksPsychedelicsMarketsInterviewJay GodfreyKetamine-Assisted TherapyNushama
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