Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, research shows that people are suffering more than ever from mental health conditions like depression, anxiety and PTSD, where conventional medicines provide little to no relief. For decades now, one of the most meaningful breakthroughs in mental health therapeutics hasn’t been a traditional drug; it was Johnson & Johnson’s (NYSE: JNJ) Spravato (esketamine nasal spray), a psychedelic. Regulatory change is always slow, but it is happening to create more awareness about the medicinal value of psychedelics, which speaks well for companies like NeonMind Biosciences Inc. (CSE: NEON) (OTCPK: NMDBF), Mind Medicine (OTCQB: MMEDF) and Compass Pathways (NASDAQ: CMPS), those focused on bringing new, much needed alternatives to mental health sufferers.
“Now more than ever, mental health is having a devastating impact on society and access to treatments remains an issue,” said NeonMind in a news release Thursday morning.
Data from a Kaiser Family Foundation health tracking poll showed that 40+% of Americans surveyed reported deteriorating mental health owing to the coronavirus pandemic. A similar effect (38%) was found in a Matchbox survey of Canadians. With about 1 in 5 North Americans suffering from a mental health condition, that means that nearly 30 million people in the U.S. and Canada have helplessly felt their condition get worse in the last year.
Comprehensive research spanning 29 countries and 203 studies published in 2015 “should command the attention of anyone who cares about health disparities,” as it is eye-opening to the dramatic reduction in life expectancy (10.1 years) in people with mental health conditions. These data puts an exclamation point on the urgent need to open pathways to innovative treatments.
As is typical with any emerging industry, investor support has been cyclical for psychedelic stocks. After a brief down cycle, the market looks ready to provide tailwinds again. Germany-based psychedelic company ATAI Life Science hasn’t provided a date to come public yet, but said it plans to raise $100 million in an IPO. Dublin-based GH Research Ireland Ltd this month closed a $125 million Series B financing, capital it will deploy for clinical studies of its psychedelic drug product for 5-MeO-DMT.
In Canada, there may not be one company more focused on a holistic integrated approach to mushrooms than NeonMind, which this week took another step towards its corporate goal of developing products to optimize human health and performance. The company is split into two divisions: pharma and CPG. NEON’s consumer products division is focused on a portfolio of functional mushroom-infused products sold across Canada through the company’s e-commerce platform, as well as launching a line of dietary supplements in the U.S. this quarter.
The pharmaceutical division is working on advancing two distinct psilocybin drug development programs targeting obesity, a disease frequently tied to mental health disorders.
On Thursday, NeonMind said that it is establishing a medical services division for the delivery of evidence-backed innovative treatments for a variety of mental health needs, including psychedelic modalities and other newer treatments for mood disorders such as depression. The integrated playbook includes assembling a team of experts and launching a chain of NeonMind-branded clinics across Canada, where patients will be provided access to a variety of mental health treatments, including psychedelic and drug-enhanced psychotherapy at scale.
NEON also named biopharma and healthcare services veteran Ernie Ho as VP, Corporate Development, tasking him with overseeing development of the division, including team, partners and possible acquisitions.
“A major impetus for this strategic decision is that psychedelic drugs used to enhance psychotherapy are set to be a game-changing treatment tool, and infrastructure development is needed to provide access points for these innovative treatments,” said Robert Tessarolo, President and CEO of NeonMind in today’s news release.
While it works on its own treatments, the prescient move positions NeonMind as a first mover that can be a strategic partner to developers of other new psychedelic therapies that garner approval in the future. Establishing a footprint now will afford NeonMind the nimbleness to adapt to changing market needs going forward.
“We believe that there are gaps that have not yet been filled for localized services and underserved markets, and will begin laying our foundations now with specialty mental health services,” Tessarolo continued.
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