The world of psychedelic therapeutics is rapidly evolving, with influential MPs advocating for drug reclassification in Britain, new studies revealing changing consumption patterns, and major pharmaceutical mergers reshaping the industry landscape. Dive into the latest updates, from the potential therapeutic benefits of magic mushrooms to the transformative experiences of first responders and the strategic moves of global pharmaceutical giants.
MPs Push for Reclassification of Psychedelic Drugs in the United Kingdom
Originally reported by Adam Forrest for The Independent, a group of influential MPs has urged reclassifying magic mushrooms and other psychedelic drugs. The Home Affairs Committee’s report cites a growing body of evidence suggesting potential therapeutic benefits of psychedelics, particularly psilocybin, in treating conditions like depression and PTSD. The cross-party committee recommends moving these drugs from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2, facilitating easier academic research into their therapeutic value.
In addition to the reclassification, the committee advocates for the wider provision of cannabis-based products for medicinal purposes and the establishment of drug “consumption rooms.” These rooms would provide a safe environment for users to consume substances under medical supervision. The committee also emphasized the importance of on-site drug-checking services at events like music festivals.
While the committee’s recommendations are clear, the Sunak government has expressed reservations, insisting there’s no safe way to consume illegal drugs and showing reluctance to consider the idea of consumption rooms. The report’s suggestions have also sparked discussions about the current classifications of controlled substances and the need for periodic reviews.
Adult Cannabis and Psychedelics Use Rises, Teen Rates Remain Unchanged
From Filter Magazine, a new federally funded study, the Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey, reveals a significant increase in adult consumption of cannabis and psychedelics, while underage marijuana use remains consistent. Conducted by the University of Michigan with support from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the survey found that 44% of individuals aged 19-30 and 28% of those aged 35-50 reported using marijuana in the past year. Additionally, psychedelic use among adults has seen a notable rise, with 8% of those aged 19-30 and 4% of those aged 35-50 reporting use in the past year.
Despite the increase in adult consumption, teen marijuana and psychedelic use have remained stable, challenging the argument that legalization would lead to increased underage use. The MTF survey suggests that adults are capitalizing on the expansion of legal state markets, and with legalization becoming more widespread, they may feel more at ease reporting their use in such surveys.
The findings come amidst a broader shift in public perception, with a recent Gallup poll indicating that half of all American adults have tried marijuana at some point. The poll also showed that cannabis consumption rates have surpassed tobacco. As the legalization movement continues, these studies provide valuable insights into consumption patterns across different age groups and challenge some long-held beliefs about the potential risks of legalization.
A New Hope for California’s First Responders: The Power of Psychedelics
As reported by CalMatters, Joe McKay, a retired FDNY firefighter, vividly recalls the trauma of September 11, 2001, a day that led him down a path of despair and depression. The aftermath saw him grappling with the loss of 26 friends and the haunting memories of that fateful day. However, a glimmer of hope emerged when he discovered the therapeutic potential of psilocybin. McKay claims that psychedelics alleviated his debilitating cluster headaches and rejuvenated his mental well-being, reintroducing him to a joy he thought was lost forever.
McKay’s transformative experience with psilocybin propelled him to advocate for its decriminalization in California. He recently testified supporting Senate Bill 58, which seeks to decriminalize several naturally occurring psychedelic substances. The bill, now pending in the Assembly, is backed by a growing body of scientific evidence from esteemed institutions like Johns Hopkins University, NYU, and UCLA. These studies underscore the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics, especially for individuals like McKay, who face severe mental health challenges stemming from traumatic experiences.
For first responders, veterans, and healthcare workers, the mental toll of their professions often leads to a higher susceptibility to mental health crises. With traditional medications and therapies falling short for many, the potential of psychedelics like psilocybin offers a beacon of hope. As SB 58 inches closer to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk, McKay’s story stands as a testament to the life-changing impact of these substances, urging lawmakers to recognize their transformative potential.
Cybin’s Acquisition of Small Pharma: A New Era in Psychedelic Therapeutics
Cybin Inc. has announced its acquisition of UK-based biotechnology company Small Pharma, marking a significant merger in the psychedelic industry. Small Pharma, which has raised $63 million since 2021, has been at the forefront of developing short-duration psychedelic therapies for mental health conditions.
Notably, they have unveiled the first placebo-controlled efficacy results for DMT in treating Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). This merger combines the expertise of both companies, with Cybin and Small Pharma’s joint DMT and deuterated DMT (dDMT) programs, forming the most extensive dataset on these short-duration psychedelic molecules.
The collaboration is poised to solidify the combined entity’s market leadership in psychedelic therapeutics. Doug Drysdale, CEO of Cybin, emphasized the synergy between the two companies, highlighting the enhanced intellectual property, robust datasets, and the potential for long-term value generation. The merger will result in a formidable patent portfolio, boasting 158 pending patent applications, two allowed applications, and 28 granted patents. George Tziras, CEO of Small Pharma, echoed the enthusiasm, emphasizing shared visions and the potential access to broader U.S. capital markets through Cybin’s senior listing on the NYSE American.
The integrated DMT dataset from both companies promises a comprehensive DMT clinical program, including Phase 2 safety data, extensive Phase 1 datasets, and studies on more patient-friendly dosing methods. Data readouts from the combined Phase 1 deuterated program are expected by late 2023, setting the stage for a Phase 2 efficacy study in the U.S. in 2024. Additionally, Cybin is gearing up to report Phase 2 data from its deuterated psilocybin analog program by the end of 2023 and is optimistic about receiving the FDA’s Breakthrough Therapy designation as early as the same year. The merged company will be based in Toronto, with a global presence spanning Canada, the U.S., the UK, the Netherlands, and Ireland, continuing to trade under the ticker “CYBN.”
Otsuka Pharmaceutical Acquires Mindset Pharma in CAD $80m Deal
In an update from PsychedelicAlpha, Otsuka Pharmaceutical’s U.S. division is set to acquire Toronto-based Mindset Pharma in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately CAD 80m (equivalent to around USD 60m). Mindset shareholders are poised to receive $0.75 in cash for each share, marking a roughly 15% premium on the closing price from the previous day.
The acquisition doesn’t surprise industry insiders, given the history of collaboration between the two companies. In January 2022, Mindset announced a partnership with The McQuade Center for Strategic Research and Development (MSRD), a branch of Otsuka. This collaboration saw Otsuka investing in developing two of Mindset’s drug candidates through Phase 1 trials, with an upfront payment of $5m to Mindset. The focus of these trials was on shorter-acting drugs. In exchange for the non-dilutive funding, MSRD secured a right of first refusal for any potential asset sales, exclusive licensing, or collaboration opportunities stemming from these drug candidates.
Bloomberg’s Lisa Du highlighted the partnership as a significant nod from big pharma to the emerging and largely unregulated field of new drugs. James Lanthier, CEO of Mindset, expressed satisfaction with the collaboration results. Besides its partnership with Otsuka’s MSRD, Mindset has also entered agreements with other entities like CAMH, Clerkenwell Health, and Cybin. Lanthier emphasized that Mindset’s primary strength lies in drug discovery and preclinical development, rather than extensive clinical development, making partnerships essential.
Makoto Inoue, the president of Otsuka emphasized Otsuka’s commitment to psychiatry and neurology as priority areas. He believes that Mindset’s innovative compounds will enhance treatment options for patients with psychiatric disorders. Lanthier echoed this sentiment, expressing confidence in Otsuka’s ability to leverage Mindset’s assets and intellectual property to benefit patients.
The acquisition is slated to be finalized by October 19, 2023.
As the landscape of psychedelic therapeutics continues to shift, it’s evident that the potential of these substances is gaining widespread recognition. From policy changes to groundbreaking research and strategic business decisions, the industry is poised for significant advancements. Stay tuned for more weekly psychedelic news updates on the evolving world of psychedelic medicine and its profound impact on mental health and well-being.
This material is not intended as a replacement or substitute for any legal or medical advice. Always consult a medical professional about your health needs. Psychedelics are widely illegal in the United States, and readers should always be informed about local, state, and federal regulations regarding psychedelics or other drugs.
- Forrest. A., MPs call for magic mushrooms and psychedelic drugs to be downgraded. (2023, August 31). The Independent. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/drugs-magic-mushrooms-uk-mps-b2402425.html
- Jaeger. K., “Record High” Adult Cannabis, Psychedelics Use—But Teen Use Stable. (2023, August 18). Filter. https://filtermag.org/adult-teen-marijuaja-psychedelic-use/
- Psychedelic therapies could be transformative for California’s ailing first responders. CalMatters. (2023, August 29) https://calmatters.org/commentary/2023/08/psychedelic-substances-transformative-first-responders/
- Cybin – Cybin to Acquire Small Pharma Inc. (n.d.). Ir.cybin.com. Retrieved August 31, 2023, from https://ir.cybin.com/investors/news/news-details/2023/Cybin-to-Acquire-Small-Pharma-Inc/default.aspx
- BREAKING: Big Pharma Company Otsuka to Acquire Mindset Pharma for CAD $80m. (2023, August 31). Psychedelic Alpha. https://psychedelicalpha.com/news/breaking-big-pharma-company-otsuka-to-acquire-mindset-pharma-for-cad-80m