Co-written by Andrew Ward and Natan Ponieman
The race is continually heating up in the psychedelics space.
An array of companies, educational institutions and investors have already obtained patents on formulations, processes, compounds and other aspects of psychedelics treatment.
The race has heated to such a degree that certain compounds, like psilocybin, have patent trackers to keep abreast of the market.
While exciting, the development of the space creates a discussion around psychedelic patent ethics.
In early 2021, COMPASS Pathways PLC (NASDAQ: CMPS) made headlines for its patent applications. Unlike previously granted patents for formulations, Compass applied for patents on commonplace psychedelic experiences, including holding hands and comfortable furniture.
As the psychedelics patent race heats up, the market continues to struggle with a line between business ethics and public domain psychedelics.
A Pathway For Patents And The Public? Mind Army Founder and psychedelics investor Michael “Zappy” Zapolin believes there is an opportunity with psychedelics that demands investment.
However, he doesn't believe that opportunity calls for patenting every aspect of the process. He believes patents for formulations, delivery systems and compounds are warranted.
"I think that should be supported like it is in any other industry," said Zappy. "Of course, I'm sure there's very frivolous patents being done."
Zappy doesn't see such patent applications receiving approval once vetted. He believes the move just upsets the market.
Still, he understands the need to drive investor interest. To incentivize people, Zappy explains that some upside must be available.
"You can't expect people to do this completely out of the goodness of their heart," he said.
Christian Angermayer, founder of Atai Life Sciences, shared a similar position in an open letter released last month.
“Without the chance of turning millions into billions, the investors disappear, and without the hundreds of millions of dollars from investors, progress to bring these medicines to patients slows to a glacial pace,” said Angermayer.
Delic Holdings Inc (OTC: DELCF) Co-Founder Matt Stang said he found himself "somewhere in the middle" on the issue. Creating an FDA-compliant substance is a massive undertaking, and deserves patents for the companies that sink hundreds of millions of dollars into R&D.
"You can't spend half a billion dollars and not expect to make money off it," Stang said. However, he drew a line in patenting pure substances, noting that no company should have a claim to compounds like pure psilocybin.
While psilocybin is naturally produced by the Psilocybe mushroom, Compass achieved a patent in 2020 for a method of isolating the compound into …