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Mental Health Co. Brings Psychedelics to the World

Source: Streetwise Reports   02/09/2022

In Citi’s Jan. 25, 2022 Psychedelic Call Series broadcast, Novamind CEO Yaron Conforti and Chief Medical…

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Source: Streetwise Reports   02/09/2022

In Citi's Jan. 25, 2022 Psychedelic Call Series broadcast, Novamind CEO Yaron Conforti and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Reid Robison discussed how the company is increasing people's access to psychedelic therapies for mental health disorders.

Citi Research Analyst, Neena Bitritto-Garg, began the broadcast by asking
the two Novamind Inc. (NM:CSE) executives to discuss the company's mission and business structure.

"Novamind is a mental health-focused firm aiming to develop the clinical infrastructure needed to get psychedelic medicine to the masses. Its primary focus is on making it accessible to all people who need treatment for various mental health and related conditions," said Novamind CEO Yaron Conforti. He is a venture capital investor and company builder who has worked in numerous sectors.

"Across the board, accessibility is probably the primary constraint," Conforti noted. "That is, people don't have access to the resources that are available now." Along with traditional offerings, those include ketamine-assisted psychotherapy,  transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), and Spravato (S-ketamine or esketamine), the prescription version of ketamine.

More new modalities are expected in the future, including further psychedelics; MDMA, or methylenedioxymethamphetamine, is expected to be the first one legalized.

To tackle this goal, Novamind has two distinct but interworking operations, both founded by Novamind's Chief Medical Officer and Psychiatrist Dr. Reid Robison. One arm develops and operates a network of psychiatric and mental health clinics throughout the U.S., all of which offer a wide of range of treatments, old and new. Expanding the network via acquisition, the company has six open clinics and expects to add another four this year alone.

Novamind's clinics are busier than ever now due to the COVID-19 pandemic having exacerbated the existing mental health crisis around the world. 

Novamind's other arm is a contract research organization (CRO), Cedar Clinical Research, led by Robison and Chief Scientific Officer Paul Fielding. From three sites, Cedar helps drug developers design and execute their clinical trials, the goal being to bring as many therapies to market as possible. Studies are currently underway in depression, major depressive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Robison was heavily involved with Janssen in getting Spravato to market and was the coordinating investigator of an MDMA trial in an eating disorder.

Cedar also conducts its own research and pilot studies. It uses its research platform to curate specific modalities for specific patient groups. It collects the data, tests the modalities, and releases or makes them available at its clinics. One example is its current study to investigate ketamine in combination with mindfulness therapy to address opioid use disorder

Being involved with potential therapies at the research stage allows Novamind to be well positioned with fully trained staff when the drugs become available commercially.

"It's really a win-win, for us, for the drug developers, and for our clients to have this paired with our clinical services and to not only leverage but offer these to our growing patient population," Conforti said. It is a "distinct advantage for patients, and that's why we aim to be a leader in this category."

Bitritto-Garg shifted the discussion to the offerings and infrastructure of Novamind's clinics.

Robison described them as "one-stop shops" where people of all ages and with a range of mental health conditions may access a range of mental health interventions, from traditional drugs and psychotherapies to new modalities, including Spravato, ketamine-assisted psychotherapy, and TMS.

Additionally, some of the clinics have a specialty area, such as palliative care or substance use disorders, and Novamind will be expanding this program. All of the clinics contain private rooms equipped for administering ketamine in conjunction with psychotherapy.

People needing mental health intervention wind up at Novamind's clinics typically through referral by physicians, specialists, hospitals, and even other mental health clinics and programs, Robison said. Many of these individuals present with a condition like depression, treatment-resistant depression, PTSD, and another mood disorders.

"We take all comers, and we individualize the treatment plan according to their needs and the best possible evidence and clinical guidelines," Robison added.

Having such an array of possible treatments at their fingertips allows staff to do that in collaboration with each. Each clinic team is comprised of psychiatrists, psychotherapists, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants, all with psychiatric training or credentials. All medical staff are initially trained in ketamine-assisted psychotherapy, and, as new therapeutics come online, they receive training in those, too.

Robison explained that ketamine-assisted psychotherapy can be used for PTSD, severe anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, serious eating disorders and, sometimes, substance abuse conditions. For such treatment, ketamine is generally delivered intramuscularly not intravenously. One treatment course requires preparation sessions, three to six drug delivery sessions (one to two hours long), plus psychotherapy integration afterward, individually or in a group. Novamind charges less than $300 for a dosing session of ketamine-assisted psychotherapy, an accessible price, Robison said.

Spravato, or ketamine in drug form, is approved for depression and major depressive disorder with suicidality, but most patients taking it have moderate to severe depression that is resistant to traditional therapies. Spravato is an expensive drug but is covered by insurance, as is TMS.

Some psychedelics, such as MDMA, require longer dosing sessions, such as six-plus hours, but Robison and Conforti do not think the time commitment will discourage people from getting the treatment. Many qualifying patients have suffered for years, some even a lifetime, from their disorder, and the treatment response could be significant, maybe even resulting in remission, which is well worth the investment.

Whereas mental health clinics typically are not lucrative, Conforti said Novamind's model is different. For one, each treatment offered represents a separate revenue source. Also, expansion is possible, such as through group and by offering various care levels, from basic to concierge, to certain markets.

"I think you'll see potential for new models, commercial models, emerge and, again, expansion of the potential margins in our business, specifically psychiatry clinics," he added.

Looking forward for Novamind, Conforti said it expects to make several exciting announcements this year.

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Disclosures:
1) Doresa Banning compiled this article for Streetwise Reports LLC and provides services to Streetwise Reports as an independent contractor. She or members of her household own securities of the following companies mentioned in the article: None. She or members of her household are paid by the following companies mentioned in this article: None.
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( Companies Mentioned: NM:CSE, )

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