🫠 This Week in Psychedelics

[5-min read] Sales of JnJ’s Spravato nearly double year-over-year.

Welcome to Tricycle Day. We’re the psychedelics newsletter with no late fees. You don’t even have to rewind. But do be kind, and (fast) forward to a friend. ⏩

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Now, here’s what we got this week.

  • Imprinting > set and setting 🖨️

  • California says put it on the ballot 🗳️

  • Spravato is on fire 🔥

  • We tried “nature’s MDMA” 🍬

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Set & Setting

The top stories in psychedelic research, policy, and business

RESEARCH

Set and setting mean more than you think

Ever spend all day thinking about tacos, and then wind up at Casa Bonita in your dreams? Just me, huh. 💃🌮

Well, it turns out the same thing happens with psychedelics. In a new paper, neuroscientists explore how stimuli from the past influence psychedelic trips. They call this time-delayed phenomenon “imprinting” and think it should be taken into account when considering set and setting.

So far, this all probably feels abstract, so let’s make it real. Here are just a few examples of imprinting that the authors documented.

  • A Disney pin collector who kept having her mystical experiences “hijacked” by Mickey Mouse 🐭

  • A 34yo gamer who found himself wandering through an 8-bit pixelated Minecraft world 👾

  • An art lover who tripped right back into a museum—this time inside the paintings 🖼️

Hmm, not exactly the most conducive environments for processing trauma or overcoming depression (we think?). The research at least suggests that excessive media exposure before a trip tends to reduce the mystical and emotional qualities of the experience.

So if you’re not trying to hang out with Timon and Pumbaa for 6 hours, maybe don’t stare too long at the packaging of your mushroom chocolate bar…

Magic Kingdom chocolate bar

Hakuna Matata! It means no worries. 🤷

MICRODOSES

🙋 I volunteer as tribute: UK startup Clerkenwell Health is calling for volunteers to take part in upcoming psychedelic trials.

🏗️ Building a better brain: New research sheds light on how different drugs, including psychedelics, reorganize the brain’s functional architecture.

🍄 Bon appetit: A small trial suggests psilocybin could be a promising new treatment option for anorexia.

😵‍💫 Seize the day: Bright Minds Biosciences has completed a Phase 1 trial of BMB-101, its investigational treatment for epilepsy.

🦁 I am woman, hear me roar: Psychedelics may help women with gynecologic cancers face the psychological challenges along their treatment journey.

POLICY

It’s California voters’ time to shine

Democracy is supposed to bring power to the people, right? Well, some Californians want psychedelics decriminalized ASAP, and they’re not waiting around for politicians to make it happen.

As of this week, a ballot initiative to legalize psilocybin mushrooms in California has started to collect signatures. If the initiative becomes law, anyone 21 and up would be able to cultivate, use, and even sell psilocybin mushrooms and products.

Yup. No medical or religious authorizations necessary. Even good ol’ fashioned recreation would be permitted.

The organization spearheading the effort is Decriminalize California, and it’s NOT their first rodeo. In fact, campaign director Ryan Munevar says this is their third attempt to get the vote on the ballot. But the last two tries were thwarted by that pesky COVID pandemic.

Now, if you’ve been reading every issue of Tricycle Day like a good boy or girl, you know that California Senate Bill 58, which would create a legal framework for psychedelics in the state, is already well on its way through the legislature. So what’s the point?

Ballot initiatives are proposed by citizens and decided directly by voters, whereas bills are introduced by elected officials and go through a complex legislative process (with plenty of opportunity for edits and amendments) before becoming law.

In other words, as a Californian, this is the only way to vote on an issue that matters to you vs. for a politician you only hope will represent your interests.

Vote for Mushrooms

Idk about you, but the fungus among us has my vote. 🍄

MICRODOSES

🇺🇸 Decrim nation: Minneapolis is the latest city to back off arrests for buying or using psychedelic plants and fungi.

👣 A not-so-new approach: New Approach, the political action committee (PAC) behind Colorado’s and Oregon’s legalization campaigns, pitched a similar vision for Massachusetts.

BUSINESS

Spravato is flying off the shelves

Fortune 500 company Johnson & Johnson just released their Q2 2023 results, and the surprise MVP is… 🥁🥁🥁… Spravato.

JnJ’s patent-protected esketamine nasal spray for treatment-resistant depression is selling like hotcakes. Sales are up 98.5% year-over-year worldwide, and 93.2% in the US alone. Spravato has already raked in $300 million in 2023, and at these growth rates, it could soon be a billion $/year drug.

Y'all got any more of that Spravato?

The global healthcare system be like 👆

Thing is, Spravato isn’t new. The drug was first approved in March 2019, but it’s just now hitting its stride. (FWIW, that’s not that unusual. After you launch a drug, you still gotta convince payors to cover it, ramp up marketing, dial in pricing, and educate prescribers and patients.)

So why is Spravato having its “it girl” moment now?

  • More demand: The mental health crisis is getting worse 😢

  • Insurance coverage: Major payors have agreed to reimburse patients’ costs 🤝

  • In-clinic visits are back: COVID is behind us, which means a paradigm shift from pill popping at home is actually possible (Spravato is administered at the doc’s office) 🏥

  • Docs are warming up to psychedelics: I mean, at this point, who isn’t? 🫠🩺

Now, here’s the awkward part. Generic (off-patent) ketamine is also known to be a safe and effective treatment for depression and anxiety. But since those uses are technically “off-label” (meaning, for conditions other than the FDA-approved indication), insurance generally won’t pay a dime… even though the true cost of the drug is lower than Spravato.

Ask a payor, and they’ll all tell ya the same thing: ketamine is for horses anesthesia. 🫤

MICRODOSES

✉️ Blank check: Filament Health is going public at a $210 million valuation via combination with Jupiter, a Special Purpose Acquisition Company.

🌱 Growing like a weed mycelium: Numinus Wellness reported 713.3% revenue growth in its Q3 2023 financial results.

🧫 Go big or go home: PsyBio is the first company to obtain formal government authorization to manufacture biosynthetic tryptamines at scale.

🧑‍🎓 O treinamento: Fluence is partnering with Phaneros Institute to bring its psychedelic therapy training resources to Brazil.

🧠 Get into flow state: Kernel, a company advancing precision neuro medicine, has debuted Flow, a new way of analyzing brain changes after administering psychedelics.

🩹 Pins and needles: PharmaTher has prototyped a microneedle patch that delivers DMT through the skin.

Trip Reports

Hot takes from around the web

Cyclists' Picks

Our favorite opportunities for mind expansion

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The Psychedelic Handbook

The Psychedelic Handbook — If you’re gonna take advice from someone, it might as well be someone who walks the walk. This practical guide to psychedelics was written by the best-selling author and clinical research psychiatrist (of Spirit Molecule fame), Dr. Rick Strassman.

That’s all for today. Before you head off, don’t forget to share, rate, and review Tricycle Day below. Catch ya next time, Cyclists! ✌️

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DISCLAIMER: This newsletter is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice. The use, possession, and distribution of psychedelic drugs are illegal in most countries and may result in criminal prosecution.

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