These psychedelic drugs have moved from the Woodstocks and Playas of the world to the hospitals where they are being used to treat everything from anxiety to opioid addiction. Companies like MindMed, a three-year-old psychedelic medicine company that went public last spring, are getting more and more permission from regulators to study and use these drugs.
To find out more about the new psychedelics industry, we talked to Rob Barrow, the CEO of MindMed, a company that makes the drugs.
How would you explain MindMed to someone who didn’t know about it?
In the end, MindMed wants to build a biopharmaceutical company that can help people with brain health problems. Our first psychedelics are the LSDs and psilocybins from all over the world. At this point, the regulatory environment is good, and the resurgence of research has made it easier for us to move quickly on these projects.
But we also have bigger goals for improving mental health and addiction outcomes for patients. That ranges from the traditional psychedelics to new ways to use them and to other molecules that are structurally similar but not psychedelic in their own right. This is what we’re talking about.
How is taking psychedelic drugs for fun different from giving them to someone in a medical setting?
A lot of people who have taken LSD or psilocybin at some point in their lives would never have depression or anxiety risk if that were true. Not at all.
We try to be a little more realistic when we talk about the opportunities and chances here. There is a lot of room for growth, but this isn’t magic, is it? These are drugs that get into your brain and work with an important system, and they have interesting and medically important effects and strong clinical evidence that they work. Having them delivered in a therapeutic setting is the best way to get the most out of them. But you need to do it under control and in a medical setting.
MindMed has a lot of bad things said about it.
As a pharmaceutical company, we are working on new ways to help people with brain health problems. That’s not what we’re trying to do as a group. When people talk about the cannabis industry and recreational use of products, that has nothing to do with what we’re trying to do. It’s always important for us to be very clear about the goal of our work and how we’re going about it, which is to get new drugs on the market through regulated processes.
Short term, what’s next for you?
People who work for us are going to start a lot of clinical trials soon that will make a big difference for us. A few of the things we’re working on this year: 18-MC for opioid withdrawal, LSD for generalised anxiety disorder, and MDMA and autism spectrum disorder as the year goes on.