A deep dive into patents and psychedelics
Amid concerns from podcaster and author Tim Ferriss that psychedelic patents could give too much power to corporate entities in the sector and ultimately impede research and other progress, a nuanced report from VICE looks at six pending or granted patents.
While the patents all involve psychedelics in some capacity, many are for inventions that are used in psychedelic therapy and not the substances themselves:
The so-called DMT vape pens
First up, rumours of a patent application by tobacco company Philip Morris to make DMT vape pens are false. Instead, it’s a patent application for a type of e-cigarette, and the reason DMT is included in the application is because the company wants to ensure other companies would have to license the tech if, one day, they wanted to put DMT in it.
A pre-proven patent for food allergies
Palo Alto Investors filed an application for a so-far unproven method to treat allergies. These types of “prophetic” applications are common, according to patent and IP lawyer Graham Pechenik. The patent office may push back and request more information — and in this case, even with revisions, some experts are skeptical it will be approved.
Psilocybin for weight loss
NeonMind Biosciences (formerly known as Flourish Mushroom Labs) has a total of 10 provisional patents for psychedelic compounds such as DMT, psilocybin and LSD for treatment of weight loss, two of which have been converted to patent applications.
The LSD trip-stopper
MindMed has applied to patent its “LSD neutralizer,” a compound called ketanserin which is designed to bring an LSD experience to a halt.
A psychedelic scent bubble
A device designed to create a personalized scent bubble around an individual could also be used to deploy psychedelic substances, according to a patent application by its inventors.
Hair loss, periodontal disease
These two again illustrate how psychedelic substances are increasingly being included in patent applications, rather than being applications to patent the substances themselves.
Concerns about monopolies or inaccessible therapies to all are fair, concludes the piece, and these ethical issues will continue to be debated among the science, business and advocacy communities.
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Self-treating with psychedelics on the rise
Last year’s Global Drug Survey, which surveyed more than 20,000 people about LSD and magic mushrooms and 6,500 people about self-treatment with psychedelics show an increase in use and acceptance of psychedelic therapy, writes the Evening Standard.
Some key results:
- More than half of those who consumed LSD aimed to “enhance their well-being,” while 32.4% wanted to deal with a “specific emotional concern or worry,” and 15.2% said they were treating a psychiatric condition.
- These were also the top reasons people said they consumed psilocybin.
- LSD, mushrooms and MDMA were the most-common substances used for self-treatment for mental health.
- The most common mental health issues treated were depression, anxiety and “relationship issues.”
- 86% reported positive outcomes.
Some researchers are urging policy-makers to amend regulations to improve access to psychedelic therapies in clinical settings or with professional assistance.
Here is this year’s Global Drug Survey.
De-scheduling down under?
Australian MLA Johnathan Davis wants to join Mind Medicine’s push to have psilocybin and MDMA rescheduled to a schedule-eight substance, says the Canberra Times. Last month, the Department of Health turned the idea down.
Schedule-nine drugs can be accessed for research, although some jurisdictions have had more challenges than others gaining approval, says PRISM’s Dr. Stephen Bright. He said the reason to not reschedule MDMA and psilocybin was to prevent non-professionals from administering treatments, but that the Global Drug Survey results show many are already self-treating.
“We need the appropriate training in place before we go down the path of rescheduling,” he said.
Awakn acquires IP from Dr. David Nutt
Along with acquiring proprietary MDMA and ketamine research data from Dr. David Nutt’s Equasy Enterprises, Awakn Life Sciences has hired the longtime psychedelics researcher to lead its research division, according to a press release.
It’s another milestone for the research group already known for:
- The world’s first phase II b MDMA-assisted psychotherapy trial
- Plans for further ketamine-assisted psychotherapy research
- Exclusive licensing of the University of Exeter’s IP for a phase II ab trial of ketamine for alcohol use disorders
DemeRx, Mind Cure studies get the green light
Ibogaine-focused DemeRx, a subsidiary of atai, was approved by the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency to begin enrolling subjects for its Phase 1/2a clinical trial of ibogaine HCI for treatment of opioid use disorder.
“This approval allows DemeRx to progress clinical research beyond the previously published uncontrolled studies with ibogaine into well-designed, controlled studies in support of regulatory processes,” said Srinivas Rao, chief scientific officer and co-founder of atai in a press release.
And Vancouver-based tech company Mind Cure Health received unconditional ethics approval from Veritas IRB for its integration protocol research study, which will inform the company’s iSTRYM digital therapeutics platform, according to BioSpace.
“Formal integration research is in its infancy, and traditional approaches haven’t lasted for centuries by accident,” said study sub-investigator Dr. Mitch Earleywine, who is a professor of Psychology at the University at Albany. “An intriguing experience is great, of course, but altering someone’s whole perspective can create gains that will continue to add to quality-of-life year after year.”
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