You are currently viewing Psychedelic Bulletin #105 – UK Won’t Foot the Bill for Spravato; Another KAP Provider Launches; Canadian Province Decriminalises Possession of MDMA and Other Drugs

Psychedelic Bulletin #105 – UK Won’t Foot the Bill for Spravato; Another KAP Provider Launches; Canadian Province Decriminalises Possession of MDMA and Other Drugs

This Week:

  • ⛔ UK Regulator Denies Coverage of Spravato for Third Time
  • 🏠 Innerwell Launches At-Home Ketamine-Assisted Therapy Offering
  • 🍁 Canada Allows British Columbia to Trial 3-Year Decriminalisation Experiment

and more…

Psychedelic Sector News

Third Time Unlucky: UK Regulator Again Denies Coverage of Spravato (esketamine)

The UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which decides which therapeutics the country’s National Healthcare Service (NHS) covers, has rejected Janssen’s Spravato esketamine nasal spray for a third time.

In the simplest terms, NICE concluded that “esketamine is unlikely to be an acceptable use of NHS resources, so it is not recommended.” 

The regulator argued that the evidence base is not strong enough to demonstrate that the benefits of the product outweigh its significant cost. UCL Research Fellow Mark Horowitz neatly summarised the 46-page appraisal document on Twitter.

Janssen is expected to challenge the rejection yet again. This author believes that, in lieu of longer-term data, NICE’s was a fair decision.

Innerwell Launches At-Home Ketamine-Assisted Therapy Offering

Earlier this week a new at-home ketamine-assisted psychotherapy (KAP) provider entered the fray: Innerwell. The at-home KAP space is booming right now, exemplified by Nue Life Health’s $23m Series A financing earlier this year.

But, the practice is increasingly coming under scrutiny. Journalists like Shayla Love (who was this week described as “somewhat of a wet blanket” due to her role in reporting on ethical concerns in the space, among other topics) are exposing shortcomings in existing providers, while researchers like Elias Dakwar are casting a critical eye on the marketing and operations of many of these ketamine clinics (at a recent conference, Dakwar characterised the market segment as “the ketamine-industrial complex).

What’s more, these mail-order ketamine providers are relying on a COVID-related suspension of federal prescribing laws. If, as some expect, this emergency suspension ends, it’s anyone’s bet as to how these companies will survive with their at-home model. The case for extending such an exemption indefinitely is weakened by the actions of companies like Cerebral: see Bulletin #102 for more on this.

Buoyed by a $3m seed round led by Greycroft, NYC-based Innerwell is, unsurprisingly, keen to differentiate itself from such offerings. The company’s co-founder, Anthony Mangia, told Psychedelic Alpha that Innerwell is placing a significant focus on the therapy aspect. He went on to explain that “Innerwell is bringing a true ketamine-assisted psychotherapy experience virtual, where patients have options among treatment journeys that include the irreplaceable power of live therapist-guided ketamine dosing sessions, as well as preparation and integration with their therapist.”

The company is hiring psychedelic therapists in the US (remote). Successful applicants will participate in training provided by Fluence.

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Weekend Reading

Business Insider: 18 clinical trials that could make or break the psychedelic industry

Business Insider is tracking the 18 clinical trials “that could make or break the future of the $100 billion psychedelics industry” (paywall). The tracker will be updated on a quarterly basis.

The tracker focuses on work that’s Phase 2 or beyond, and the accompanying text notes that “Psychedelic Alpha, an industry site, is also tracking psychedelics research, including early-stage science.”

Event: The Future of Spirituality: Are Synthetic Psychedelics and Consciousness Hacking the New Meditation?

(How) will technology change human spirituality? Does technology represent an opportunity to democratise enlightenment or pave the way for the commodification of spirituality? Are tech-enabled experiences authentic? Does that even matter?

These questions, and many more, will be discussed as part of a 90-minute virtual event taking place on June 15th. Two representatives from the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change are joined by MAPS’ Liana Gillooly as part of an InterIntellect Salon event that will explore “the future of spirituality,” asking the question: “Are Synthetic Psychedelics and Consciousness Hacking the New Meditation?”

More info and tickets here.

Bringing Psychedelic Therapy Home: A Human Spin on Altered States, Tech, and Data

A brief thought piece from Tom Feegel (Beond) and Yuriy Blokhin (Homecoming) talks to the apparent tension between the highly individualised nature of psychedelic experiences and the role of technology.

The authors suggest that this tension can be dealt with by suggesting that digital tools should be understood as “complementary technologies with their own roles to play,” but only as an “enhancement to the work of therapists and patients.”

Canada Allows British Columbia to Trial 3-Year Decriminalisation Experiment

The Canadian government has allowed the province of British Columbia, home to over 5 million, to trial a 3-year experiment under which it will decriminalise the possession of small quantities of drugs. The province hopes to tackle record overdose deaths by reducing the potential and/or perceived legal risks associated with seeking help.

The exemption takes effect on 31 January 2023, with adults (18 years and older) able to possess up to 2.5 grams of drugs like MDMA, cocaine and opioids for personal use without fearing arrest. The province had requested a 4.5 gram allowance, but this was downsized by the federal government – much to the chagrin of some local drug-user groups.

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