This week we take a look at growing tensions within Oregon’s Psilocybin Advisory Board, which reached a crescendo yesterday with the resignation of the Board’s chairman. We’re planning on sharing a slightly longer piece on psychedelic-assisted therapy infrastructure next week: stay tuned.
Psychedelic Sector News
As Debate Heats Up and Time Runs Out, Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board Chair Resigns Amid Conflict of Interest Allegations
With policies expected to be finalised this Spring and licences to be issued in just under 10 months, it’s hard to ignore the apparent discord among Oregon’s Psilocybin Advisory Board.
Reporting in STAT, Olivia Goldhill takes a look at some of the quarrels emerging among the Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board, which is hurriedly creating the guidelines for the roll-out of psilocybin services in the state as early as January 2023.
The manner in which Oregon’s psilocybin services are rolled out is important, as it will likely serve as precedent for other states. As Mason Marks notes, “for better or worse, what inevitably happens is these rules will be copy and pasted to states around the country.”
Goldhill looks at some of the key areas of contestation, including:
- How ‘medical’ will the Oregon model be? What contraindications will be included, for example?
- How will sexual abuse be managed and responded to?
- How can diversity be encouraged?
- How should the influence of out-of-state interests be managed?
But, the debate isn’t entirely related to the policies and rules themselves: there’s also debate surrounding potential conflicts of interest among Board members.
In fact, just hours after Goldhill’s article was published the co-architect and co-chief petitioner of Measure 109, Tom Eckert, resigned as Psilocybin Advisory Board Chair following calls for his departure from a number of board members.
According to Willamette Week, Eckert wrote in his resignation letter:
“As my life continues to change, with more relationships taking shape, I am mindful of appearances. I do not want anything to distract from the earnest work of this Advisory Board. It feels like the right time to orient my energies to the next phase of the journey. I look forward to supporting the development of Oregon’s psilocybin infrastructure in new and different roles.”
Willamette Week also obtained emails through a public records request which add colour to the circumstances of Eckert’s resignation.
The board’s meeting in late February resulted in a unanimous vote to disclose board member conflicts of interest at the March 23rd meeting.
Two days later, Shayla Love reported on potential conflicts of interest among the Advisory Board in an article titled, ‘In Oregon, Psychedelics Regulators Confront Conflicts of Interest.’ There, Love notes that “multiple sources in the psychedelic community confirmed they were aware of a relationship between Eckert and [Rachel] Aidan,” CEO of Synthesis Institute: a Dutch psychedelic retreat company with interest in Oregon. This failure to disclose a romantic relationship with the CEO of an interested party led to calls for Eckert’s resignation.
Additionally, Eckert founded a training company for psilocybin service centre facilitators.
With the Chair’s resignation coming just hours ahead of the Board’s training subcommittee meeting yesterday, the situation appears less than ideal.
Predictions From the Most Influential Women in Psychedelics
PsyMed Ventures co-founder Dina Burkitbayeva expects to see a greater focus on therapist training and building out the infrastructure for the successful scale-up of psychedelic-assisted therapy.
“I think training therapists and making sure that there’s qualified people is going to be extremely important, and that’s where our focus is going to be in the investment world.”
MAPS’ Natalie Lyla Ginsberg, meanwhile, believes that we will see a thinning out of for-profit psychedelic biotechs.
“I see that in five years’ time, there will be a few very successful, solid companies”, she said. “It will be a clearing of the energy in some ways.”
Neo Kuma’s Clara Burtenshaw described the psychedelics space as “a white blank page,” which she believes is leading to a great deal of “innovative technologies springing up around psychedelic treatments” which may be useful in other spaces.
Finally, COMPASS Pathways co-founder Ekaterina Malievskaia (somewhat surprisingly) explained that she would prefer if there were greater collaboration between the medical approach and those forwarding decrim. and legalization efforts.
Drug companies are investing big in psychedelics, but can they engineer out the trip?
This cover story in Chemical & Engineering News offers a thorough look at efforts to separate the trip from the apparent therapeutic benefit of psychedelics. A highly recommended read.
Johns Hopkins, Yale and NYU Team Up to Teach Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy
Carey and Claudia Turnbull, Tim Ferriss, Bill Linton and other psychedelic philanthropists have teamed up to provide a $1m grant to support a tri-institution effort to develop a psychedelic curriculum for psychiatrists.
“The goal is to have the curriculum certified by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, which would create a pathway to make the program available to medical schools as an accredited specialty all across the country.”
Guardian: Demand grows for UK ministers to reclassify psilocybin for medical research
Interestingly, campaigners are focusing on ailments beyond mental health diseases here, with cluster headaches taking centre stage in this piece from Guardian health policy editor Denis Campbell.
“Conservative drug reformers and leading psychiatrists are urging ministers to reclassify the psychedelic compound psilocybin so that researchers can explore its potential as a medicine.”
MindMed Co-Founder JR Rahn Launches ‘Crypto Pharma Startup’
Along with Bolt co-founder Ryan Breslow and founder of ‘America’s most hated startup’ Ashwath Rajan, MindMed co-founder and former CEO JR Rahn is seeking to develop “solutions to the opioid crisis” via a new startup, Love Health.
Details about the startup are few and far between, but it appears that Rahn, Breslow and Rajan are considering paying participants in drug trials with a cryptocurrency token.
“In other words, it’s throwing a lot — blockchain, naturopathy, and even possibly psychedelics — at the wall. Whether it sticks better than a controversial vending machine is anyone’s guess.”
All feels a bit frothy, doesn’t it?
Job Opportunities for Clinical Development/Ops Professionals
Most of you will know of Beckley Psytech, the UK-based psychedelics company associated with the inimitable Beckley Foundation.
Buoyed by a $80m Series B, the company is developing a number of psychedelic compounds including psilocybin and 5-MeO-DMT.
Beckley Psytech are currently hiring four key roles in the clinical development and operations realm:
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