Psychedelic medicine is on the rise. With the Biden Administration preparing for the realities of implementing psychedelic therapy and the Canadian government granting limited access and sponsoring research, it seems to be only a matter of time before patients are more widely permitted to consume substances such as psilocybin and MDMA in therapeutic contexts.
Investors are taking notice.
Two interesting companies in this sphere are synthetic psychedelic manufacturer Psygen Inc. and next-generation drug developer Xpira Pharmaceuticals.
While the market for psychedelics is young, Calgary-based Psygen Inc. is fast becoming a leading manufacturer of GMP-compliant synthetic substances that are needed to fuel the current R&D boom.
Under the medical direction of professor and veteran clinician Dr. Allan S. Kaplan, Xpira pharmaceuticals is pursuing novel treatments for eating disorders based on psychedelic compounds.
Background & Current Legal Status
While psychedelics remain broadly illegal at the international level, as well as federally in the United States and Canada, a wide array of research, exemptions, and legalization and decriminalization initiatives have slowly been gaining traction.
The modern psychedelic renaissance began with groundbreaking research from leading institutions such as Johns Hopkins University and Imperial College London. Studies into psilocybin’s impact on depression, its influence on spiritual experiences and its potential to combat addiction in the United States have gone hand in hand with research from the United Kingdom into how exactly the substance impacts the brains of users and how the experience is processed psychologically in individual and group settings.
In policy terms, considerable progress has been made in recent years at the state and municipal levels in the U.S. In November of 2020 Oregon voted “Yes” on Ballot Measure 109, legalizing psilocybin therapy in the State. California, Michigan and Colorado are all working out details of decriminalization bills and ballot initiatives at their respective statehouses, though admittedly not without some setbacks.
Major cities such as Denver, Oakland, Seattle and Detroit have directed their respective local law enforcement agencies to make arrests for the possession of psychedelic plants their lowest priority, effectively decriminalizing these substances.
For the most part, Canada has taken a more individualized, top-down approach to psilocybin’s therapeutic potential. In August of 2020, Health Canada began allowing individuals suffering from terminal conditions to undergo psilocybin-assisted therapy. Since then, the federal health agency has moved on from individual exemptions to the country’s Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to a physician-initiated system of requests for access through the Special Access Program.
Psychedelic Investing: Overall Market Outlook
Excitement on the part of investors is understandable. A report published by Bloomberg from market research and consulting firm InsightAce Analytic summarized the case for psychedelics succinctly.
“The increasing prevalence of depression cases due to the rise in stress levels and the growing rate of chronic diseases throughout the world is predicted to propel the global psychedelic medicines market expansion,” the report said. “Additionally, changed lifestyles and quality of living are fueling the growth of the psychedelic medicine market. Moreover, increasing psychological drug dependency creates demand for medicine and is also expected to develop lucrative growth prospects during the forecast period. Increasing research and development (R&D) initiatives and the introduction of breakthrough medications that have exhibited efficiency in patients with severe psychological disorders are expected to generate considerable opportunities.”
InsightAce Analytic also added that, “Conversely, wider acceptance of non-therapeutic therapies over allopathic therapies and stringent regulations imposed by various governments to commercialize psychedelic medicines may restrain the market’s growth.”
This particular report pegged the value of the psychedelics market at $ 8.31 billion by 2028, with a CAGR of 13.2% between 2022 and 2028. While this growth projection is significant, this is a relatively conservative analysis when stacked against other, comparable estimates on the sector.
A worsening global outlook for mental health and addiction coupled with robust R&D and the promise of novel solutions to some of these enduring and pernicious conditions has captured significant interest.
In order for the drug development efforts necessary to make these substances safe and widely available to the medical consumer market in any form to take place, we must first have access to a large quantity of GMP-compliant psychedelics for research purposes. The space will then require teams of experienced researchers and clinicians to create novel molecules from these classic psychedelic compounds.
Whatever the current scientific, policy and market outlooks may evolve into, the future existence of psychedelic medicine is as intriguing a possibility as it is an unanticipated one, unforeseen and unlikely just a few short years ago. As the sector stabilizes itself, key players are emerging, and patients, doctors and healthcare providers at large are adjusting to the reality that these treatments may soon be more widely available.