Trip Report Update; Virtual Conference; ATAI's Messaging, Tim Ferris Insight; and more
Hello and Welcome to The Trip Report, a newsletter on the business, policy, and growing pains of the emerging psychedelic ecosystem.
If this is your first Trip Report, welcome, now wash your hands.
If you like what you read here, please consider supporting us through The Trip Report Pro, our premium product that delivers additional editions on Monday and Friday with deeper dives into the issues, topics, companies, organizations, and their products and strategies. This Friday, we’ll be looking at Numinus as they appear to be getting ready to be a publicly-traded company. Sign up is 👇
Some Quick Housekeeping
In the spirit of Open Science, let’s practice some Open Media. Here is what I am thinking about:
What kind of relationship do I want to have with the business, policy, social, and cultural communities that I write about?
In Trip Report Pro dispatches, we cover the emerging companies, strategies, and regulation initiatives with more opinion and analysis than we tend to do in the Wednesday dispatch.
Here’s the thing, I don’t want The Trip Report to be ball busting hit pieces, and I don’t want it to be puff pieces that convey nothing beyond a publicized appearance. I’m not trying to make enemies. I am trying to support the builders of this system with a valuable product in the long run.
I am not paid by any company for any opinion I write about here or in any public forum, including podcasts and Twitter.
I do not hold individual stocks in any company I write about.
I pay for all of my own travel and expenses when I attend company events.
I aim to offer thoughtful, honest opinion and analysis without being a dick and making enemies and without giving anyone special treatment. I hope this has been your experience.
What kind of relationship do I want to have with readers? And how can The Trip Report be more valuable to readers?
Digital communities are all the rage these days, and it would be a lot of fun to turn The Trip Report into more than a newsletter.
Learning, getting into the weeds of the science, business, and policy in this space. I think that’s why we’re all here.
A Learning Community, a space to share ideas, ask questions, connect with experts in the multitude of domains that make up the psychedelic ecosystem.
That is what I am thinking.
If you have experience in this domain I’d love to connect.
If you have strong feelings about any of this, ideas, input, critique, etc. holler at me.
Ok, I’m done. Let’s roll.
Question from a Reader
Hi Zach: What’s your thought in the at-home psychedelic therapy model, of Mindbloom in the US (nyc) compared with the center-physical locations model of Field Trip and Numinous? Is that the evolution path for Field Trip and Numinous? They raised millions and operate physical locations... what’s your pov on the future of delivery of psychedelic medicine?
Here’s my response:
Thanks for the email and question.
My understanding is Mindbloom is leveraging temporary changes to DEA's controlled substances act. Under a state of emergency providers are able to write scripts for controlled substances like opioids, ketamine, etc without an in-person consultation.
Assuming we return to normal some day Mindbloom, and others will need to first see patients in person before administering at home ketamine, so even if at-home administration remains viable the clinic will serve a purpose.
I think we're going to see a Cambrian explosion in delivery methods including at home administration. I am not familiar with the software capabilities of mindbloom, fieldtrip, numinus but I presume monitoring (data collection) at home trips via app will be the norm for all venture backed clinics. I cannot foresee this happening without a trained trip-sitter though.
The in-person clinics under normal circumstances will be a requirement for initial consultation and likely the main method of administration (my guess) so this money spent on clinics is not misspent. There's an inherent drive to approximate CPG and more scaleable models (weed, software) but I think these efforts will require an engineering the trip out ala MindMed's 18-MC. As long as a trip is involved I think the clinic model is going to be neccessary. Costs come down with group administration and shorter trips (DMT).
I don't think at home administration will fly with MDMA/Psilocybin since 'talk therapy' is baked into the administration per FDA.
Its going to be fascinating to watch this unfold!
Do you have any insight that you would like to share with The Trip Report community on this matter? Reach out by email or hit the comments below.
The Trip Report is a media partner of the Virtual Psychedelic Conference.
I’m an introvert. I like to wear sweatpants. I’d instead go to the dentist than a networking event.
A silver lining of the current climate is videoconferencing.
I am never sure how to manage the inevitable social hurdles at conferences, like how long should I awkwardly stand near a small conversation before I am acknowledged or decide I am not wanted. Or how to find a conference buddy, someone I am comfortable with and can return to after an obligatory lap of the conference hall.
Perhaps you’re an extrovert and thrive in conference settings; you feed off the energy, the edges of your mouth naturally bend upwards, lucky you.
By the time the quarantining comes to an end, I’ll be right there with you, eager AF to hobnob, rub elbows, and mingle.
There are no introverts in a post-pandemic world.
Now let’s look at some of the speakers by topic at the upcoming virtual (pants optional) psychedelic conference. I’ll highlight some that look noteworthy, and again next week, there's quite a few.
“More Research is Needed.”
This is the last sentence of many scientific papers.
But it is the first response to the question, “Does microdosing work?”
Vince Polito is a new name to me, but I am excited to learn more about his research as it is unabashedly aimed at consciousness and what it means to be human.
And he’s authored a relatively recent systematic review of microdosing research with the last sentence: “The current results suggest that dose controlled empirical research on the impacts of microdosing on mental health and attentional capabilities are needed.”
From his site:
“I’m interested in self representation, in particular how we monitor feelings of control over our actions (sense of agency) and how we track our bodies in space (body representation). My research focuses on developing measures of how our sense of self changes in different contexts, clinical conditions, and altered states of consciousness.”
João Taborda da Gama, a Portuguese lawyer with expertise in drug policy and his country’s recently passed medical marijuana framework. Presumably, he will discuss Portugal’s unique drug policy (virtually nationwide decriminalization and addiction support services) and the regulatory hurdles of creating legal medical and recreational markets for scheduled substances.
More names are added every day to the list of speakers, but two from the business community jump out at me as I would like to continue to learn more about their projects.
Alex Speiser will be representing Orthogonal Thinker, the Hawaii based parent company of EI Ventures and Psilly, a product which at least two people have told me is “fucking epic.”
The second is Ian McDonald of Bright Mind Biosciences, a company that is just starting to poke its head out into the world but by all accounts have a solid team working on next-generation psychedelics.
ATAI’s Messaging: Active vs Passive Therapy
ATAI’s focus is on patients who have already tried – and failed – to find relief with other therapeutics.
We aren’t alone in this thinking: Deborah Mash, CEO of one of ATAI’s close partners, DemeRx, has spent years investigating the therapeutic properties of the iboga plant in OUD. Together, we are now taking the next step for research by submitting Clinical Trial Applications for a Phase II study in opioid-dependent patients.
The exact mechanisms behind ibogaine’s dissociative psychedelic effects are unclear, but it has been speculated that the dream-like state induced in patients leads to a kind of “brain reset”. We want to see whether this reset might provide patients with a clean slate, empowering them to reframe their understanding of their behavioural patterns and play a more active role in reducing opioid use.
This piece in European Pharmaceutical Manufacturer written by ATAI’s CEO Florian Brand.
Brand’s choice of words here are to be noted. He is careful in not calling it a treatment but a “reset” that offers empowerment so patients can play a more active role.
That is a smart move.
In the treatment of persistent musculoskeletal pain (chronic pain), which should be thought of as depression manifesting physically, active therapies are better than passive therapies.
Exercise, physical therapy, and learning about the science of pain are active treatments; they require empowerment, another term Brand uses.
Passive treatments, like massage, manipulation, and acupuncture, can be helpful but always secondary to active treatment.
Effort and commitment from the patient improve results.
Psychedelic medicine runs the risk of becoming a passive treatment if preparation and integration are priced out.
Tim Ferris responded to a tweet about his investments in the psychedelic space.
He clarified that he had not invested any money in psychedelic companies. Instead, he has donated money to research. He then went on to say the following, but the whole thread is insightful, you can find it here.
How do you think we protect ourselves from our lesser selves in this environment? B-corps, Public Benefit Corps, what are some vehicles, frameworks, and incentives that can lend themselves to align our decisions with the psychedelic insight?
Psychedelics Assisted Therapy
Psychedelic Science Webinar Series
Psychedelics for Clinicians and Therapists
And now here it is, your moment of Zen:
That’s it for today. Stay home, wash your hands, wear a mask.