Some Thoughts on For-Profit Psychedelic Startups and Companies

He is sincere in his goal to help millions with access to psychedelics, and here is his response to my thread (in case easier, screenshot is here):.

Credit: Lewis MinorThis week has been a remarkable firestorm for me..

[If helpful, here is the link to the real thread on Twitter.]

I intended on reacting on Twitter, but it got long and Twitter wouldnt let me. I also realized that the concerns, points, and issues are pertinent to almost anyone beginning or working for a for-profit company in the psychedelic area.
For those factors and more, I chose to turn my response into a blog post.
Here it is …
Thank you for the response, Christian. I agree with nearly whatever in your response and value the discussion.
That said, I dont think it straight resolves my concerns. To further the conversation, please allow me highlight and clarify a few things:.

Rick Doblin of The Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) replied with the below, which uses terrific food for thought. It demonstrates how non-profits and drug advancement can co-exist with ingenious business models. It also shows how a profit-first design is NOT always essential for attracting excellent skill to deal with hard issues:.

Part of the excitement came after a series of tweets I published about a few of the concerns I have as psychedelic medicine makes the leap from research to for-profit start-ups and business. Here is what I wrote:.
” I am really worried by the patent land grab heating up in the for-profit psychedelic world. Is anybody working on an IP Defense Fund– or coalition of pro-bono attorneys– of some type to submit USPTO objections/comments, and so on when companies try to secure broad patents that could impede clinical research study, affordable competitors (i.e., for “scale” and large accessibility, we need competition to assist drive costs down), and so on? Who are the smartest people considering this?cc @michaelpollan, @Drug_Researcher, @RickDoblin, @RCarhartHarris”.

@tferriss: @MAPS has just recently engaged patent attorneys to help in strengthening our anti-patent strategy for uses of MDMA, and to prepare easily accessible info for patent examiners so patents will not be issued in the first location.— Rick Doblin, MAPS (@RickDoblin) March 4, 2021.

Another reaction that got a fair quantity of attention was from Christian Angermeyer, who has actually co-funded and co-founded 2 noteworthy for-profit companies in the area, Compass Pathways and ATAI Life Sciences, respectively. I found out of his action in a detailed and outstanding VICE short article on the spectrum of IP being filed right now related to psychedelics, which ranges from weight-loss to e-cigarettes.
Prior to we go even more, I want to note that I like Christian and have actually likewise moderated panels including him (e.g., the psychedelic science panel at Milken Institute Global Conference 2019, which I think is the very best 101 overview Ive ever belonged of), where Ive constantly found his viewpoints important..

Im an early financier or advisor in 50+ business that have created hundreds of billions of dollars of market cap (e.g., Shopify, Uber, Facebook, Twitter, Alibaba) and raised 10s of billions of dollars in financing. I comprehend how essential intellectual residential or commercial property (IP) can be and how important it is to have financially sustainable designs for scaling. For-profit structures, and markets in basic, are outstanding systems for development and fixing difficult problems.

2. Regarding my contributions of “a few million dollars,” which seemed to be considered trivial– I think its worth noting that I started funding studies in psychedelic science circa late 2015, and I was a founding funder of the first devoted proving ground in the world (Imperial College) and the very first in the US (Johns Hopkins). I believe these and other “seed investments” have actually had big compounding effects, including institutional and cultural domino effects on a global scale. I evaluate my investments and philanthropy based on results, not the size of my inputs. When put in early, little amounts can do a lot. Obviously, I completely concur that massive amounts of capital will be needed to scale access.
Related to science– would you be prepared to enable researchers who have signed deals with Compass or ATAI to share their arrangements publicly (i.e., waive confidentiality provisions)? I believe that would quell some of the concerns amongst psychedelic advocates.

Obviously, I realize that this would be uncommon and not without challenges, but it might be an innovative example of how companies can reassure the general public that they are, net-net, contributing to, and not interfering with or disabling, the ecosystem..

3. You composed that Im “incorrect” and “exceptionally misguided” on the topic of IP. Can you please assist me understand how Im incorrect and misdirected? Im constantly video game to find out, but I might use more specifics.

As I specified in my preliminary tweet thread, I believe its worth examining– and potentially pressing back on– “broad patents that might prevent scientific research, affordable competitors (i.e., for scale and wide ease of access, we require competition to assist drive expenses down), and so on.” This likewise applies to anything in the public domain that ought to remain in the general public domain. Please note that I didnt discuss particular companies, but considering that you engaged …


Compass and other for-profit companies have the prospective to do a heap of good worldwide. I also think that the nature and incentives of industrialism can breed strategies that are very bad for development, and we need people, groups, and third-party organizations to expect them and mitigate them. When they clash with the extreme truths of organization, even the finest of intents can warp.

For-profit ventures have an important function to play in the expansion of psychedelic medication, but for-profit ventures dont get a free pass. There will be compelling temptations to make dishonest choices, pursue unreasonable anti-competitive practices (e.g., patenting “developments” that arent creations), generate profits without adding value (e.g., IP trolling), charge as much as possible (e.g., NYT– “Drug Goes From $13.50 a Tablet to $750, Overnight”), and deal with the psychedelic landscape as a zero-sum or winner-take-all game.

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts worldwide with more than 600 million downloads. It has actually been chosen for “Best of Apple Podcasts” 3 times, it is frequently the # 1 interview podcast throughout all of Apple Podcasts, and its been ranked # 1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on numerous celebrations. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, have a look at this page.

When again, thank you for the discussion. I considerably value it, and I considerably appreciate your objective to help as many individuals as possible.
Most sincerely,.

Do you disagree? Do you believe a monopoly/duopoly of any type (Compass or ATAI or otherwise), or patents on basic elements of the psychedelic experience, would be good for the ecosystem, for development, or for making sure affordable rates?

In the end, the individuals who would most suffer as an outcome of the issues Ive outlined are the countless individuals who a lot of require psychedelic medicine. That is why Im putting in the time to compose and release my concerns.

I ask these things AS A CHEERLEADER. I WANT Compass and ATAI to prosper in assisting many millions of people! Ive fulfilled you, along with the creators of Compass, and I think you all to be great people. I truly indicate it. I believe that you all wish to alter the world for the much better, and this field needs well-capitalized groups who can carry out.

Associated and Recommended.

For-profit endeavors have a crucial function to play in the expansion of psychedelic medicine, but for-profit endeavors dont get a totally free pass. They can likewise trigger harm, and they frequently do. There will be engaging temptations to make unethical choices, pursue unjust anti-competitive practices (e.g., patenting “developments” that arent inventions), create profits without adding worth (e.g., IP trolling), charge as much as possible (e.g., NYT– “Drug Goes From $13.50 a Tablet to $750, Overnight”), and deal with the psychedelic landscape as a zero-sum or winner-take-all game. “Disruption” can be white hat or black hat; “scaling” can be done with net-gain or net-loss to a community.
Heres the part that people forget– even if the founders of a business rival Mother Theresa in their ethical character and strength, that isnt enough. Leadership modifications, incentives alter, power dynamics alter, and all circumstances change (Suggested reading: We Will Call It Pala). When once again, even the purest of objectives can warp when they collide with the harsh realities of organization.

” I am extremely concerned by the patent land grab warming up in the for-profit psychedelic world. Regarding my contributions of “a few million dollars,” which seemed to be considered insignificant– I think its worth keeping in mind that I started funding research studies in psychedelic science circa late 2015, and I was a founding funder of the first devoted research study center in the world (Imperial College) and the very first in the United States (Johns Hopkins). Do you think a monopoly/duopoly of any type (Compass or ATAI or otherwise), or patents on standard aspects of the psychedelic experience, would be excellent for the ecosystem, for development, or for ensuring budget friendly prices?

None of this is Compass- or ATAI-specific. It uses to every startup and business in the space..