Pro-Patient Psychedelic Treatments Are Finally Moving Forward In A 'New Paradigm Shift'

Last week, Benzinga’s Psychedelics Capital Conference brought a premier gathering of the biggest publicly traded psychedelics companies in North America with forward-thinking investors to Miami, where the hottest topic seemed to revolve around LSD and derivative molecules.

Having spent the majority of my life dealing with severe anxiety disorder, I have only recently shifted my thinking away from “what pills” can I take to push it down to conversations about what forms of treatment and studies have been done that could help me navigate the almost defeating waters of my own mind I experience everyday, from the moment I wake up each morning.

At the Capital Conference, Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary (Mr. Wonderful) sat down on a panel with Benzinga’s founder and CEO Jason Raznick to explain the market opportunities for legal psychedelics in the space, which O’Leary says is in the “hundreds of billions of dollars.”

“This sector is medicine: FDA-approved, non-recreational use,” referring to psychedelics usage as a form of mental health treatment. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

A few weeks prior to Benzinga’s inaugural conference, I had just begun my own into psychedelics, looking for ways to finally address my own anxiety head-on.

And that’s where I came across MindMed (NASDAQ: MNMD), a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company developing novel products to treat brain health disorders, with a particular focus on psychiatry, addiction, pain, and neurology.

Currently, the company focuses on compounds linked to LSD, ibogaine, and MDMA as it continues assembling a compelling and innovative drug development pipeline. Its Phase 2b clinical trial for LSD is the most advanced program in the company’s pipeline and is the first commercial study of LSD in over 40 years.

The objective is to determine the reduction in anxiety symptoms for up to twelve weeks after a single administration of MindMed’s proprietary drug candidate, MM-120, a pharmacologically optimized form of LSD being developed for GAD and other brain-based disorders.

O’Leary, who entered the space just three years ago, also has a stake in MindMed, serving as an early financial and media supporter of the company. He has since become a strong advocate for the entire psychedelics space.

In an interview with MindMed CEO Robert Barrow, I spoke with him about where the industry currently stands, debunking the myths and misnomers held by consumers and investors. Barrow also sits on Benzinga's Psychedelics Advisory Council.

Parsing Through Myth

When you think about the history of psychedelics it’s hard not to think of the bias, preconceived notions, and of course, political backdrop that was the counterculture movement and responses in the 1950s and 1960s.

Historically, LSD has been studied as part of a rigorous, drug discovery process. But the compound’s reputation has been muddied by disinformation and misinformation.

Barrow referenced a conference he attended where the FDA was presenting a particular narrative around the genotoxic effects LSD had upon birth defects:

“…and that data has been debunked entirely. The FDA speaker went on to say that they no longer view that as a concern with LSD. While we have our own studies that support that conclusion, that’s just a small example of the many ways in which the narrative around the opportunity here, historically, has been distorted.”

At the end of the day, Barrow believes that the critical importance of organizations such as MindMed is to “build out a pharma company that can deliver on the therapeutic opportunity of the psychedelic drug class, and any other novel CNS mechanisms that will improve patient outcomes.”

Where Do We Fall On the Spectrum?

In 2022, LSD is now being examined appropriately by regulators for bringing a positive, treatment option to consumers, specifically by targeting unmet medical needs.

For companies like MindMed, bringing a rigorous, pharmaceutical approach to drug development is critical …

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