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Novamind’s Trial Site for Merck Another Example Of Its Leadership in Mental Health

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1 Comment| March 25, 2021

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Novamind’s clinics and clinical research capabilities are already well established to bring alternative mental health therapies, including psychedelic medicine, to market.

One of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies has selected a psychedelics company as a key clinical research site for a new drug trial, and that psychedelics company is far from a household name. Novamind Inc. (CSE: NM, OTC: NVMDF, FSE: HN2, Forum) will serve as a trial site for Merck in a clinical trial for a new drug to treat a difficult form of depression that affects up to 80 million people worldwide.

For this Merck study, Novamind’s research division, Cedar Clinical Research (CCR), will be a trial site for a clinical trial focused on treatment-resistant depression. Being selected to partner in such a significant study is a testament to Novamind’s deep research and clinical trial experience. It also gives some insight into the pipeline of drugs that blue-chip companies are developing for treating mental health ailments.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 264 million people suffer from depression, and up to one third of cases are treatment-resistant. So the potential impact of psychedelic medicine on humanity has tremendous health implications. Psychedelics, however, are not a panacea, and a range of innovative mental health therapies are required to treat an even wider range of mental health challenges. Along with existing modalities, the psychedelic treatments in use today at Novamind’s clinics offer clients evidence-based alternatives where none existed before, and more are on the horizon.

Psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy can be highly effective, and is often faster, than traditional treatments that can take years of iteration. Circumventing those iterative years with novel treatments could potentially relieve the suffering of millions of people.

Merck’s new drug candidate and Novamind’s role in the clinical trial is yet another indicator that the landscape of mental health treatments – and the companies at the leading edge – have shifted. That landscape has also come full circle: It was Merck, in Germany, that first synthesized MDMA way back in 1912, only to have others discover and understand its psychedelic effects much later.

Covid-19 and Accelerated Need

This needs no introduction. The pandemic has brought on a very challenging year and the self-isolation of lockdowns has significantly impacted the mental wellbeing of many segments of society. In a recent study reported by the New York Times, 25% of American youth aged 18-24 said they had seriously considered suicide.

Covid has proven to be a mental health pandemic disguised as a health crisis. The past year has made Novamind’s work ever more relevant and urgent for millions of people, especially those who have tried conventional mental health treatment and not found relief. Yes, that’s bold talk about a company that only went public in January and has a market value of about CAN$67 million. But the efficacy of Novamind’s treatments and the ability to scale them is real.

“Conventional medical treatments can work wonders for many people, but there are still gaps that have yet to be filled,” says Dr. Reid Robison, Novamind’s Chief Medical Officer. “Globally, millions of people suffer from mental health conditions that don’t respond to treatment. Without an alternative, they are forced to endure suffering with little hope on the horizon,” says Robison. “We are committed to enabling access to novel mental health alternatives.”

The psychedelic revolution? Already happening.

The discussion about psychedelic medicine in media and finance circles speaks about the revolution to come. That’s not quite true. It’s well underway, right now, in Novamind’s clinics and research facilities. After thousands of years of use in indigenous healing, over a century of staggered and stunted pharmaceutical development, and banishment as illegal substances, psychedelics are finished playing in the shadows. These compounds have not only re-emerged but are gaining more traction and broader credibility.

Coupled with the need for mental health services (and the pandemic’s acceleration of that need) is the public’s awareness of psychedelic therapy. Best-selling books like Michael Pollan’s “How to Change Your Mind,” a mainstream success that climbed to the top of the New York Times’ best seller list, have dovetailed with psychedelic deregulation and decriminalization movements in Colorado, Oregon, and California.

As policies around psychedelic drugs and treatments evolve in America and around the world, innovative companies have been conducting research and trials while expanding their range of treatment options to service this need. New compounds and treatment methods have emerged that are legal, safe, and most important, effective. Clinical trials and research from leading institutions like Johns Hopkins, Imperial College, and MAPS have published psychedelic treatment research with undeniable results that show promise to treat a range of mental health problems such as depression and suicidal ideation, PTSD, and eating disorders.

Novamind is at the centre of many of these advances, and it has an accelerated growth plan to meet the pending demand. Specialized in psychedelic medicine, Novamind focuses on providing accessible mental health services and facilitating safe, legal access to psychedelic medicine. It is also one of the busiest and most experienced psychedelic medicine companies in America, with over 20,000 visits to its clinics in 2020 alone.

Novamind differentiates itself from its peers with a blend of clinics and clinical research. The company is also leading the creation of treatment protocols that use psychedelic medicines to address difficult-to-treat conditions such as treatment-resistant depression and eating disorders. Developing these protocols helps to enhance the impact and efficacy of psychedelic compounds delivered in a clinical setting. Novamind’s therapeutic protocols include screening, preparation and integration phases. These specific psychotherapeutic interventions and support are provided in the days and weeks before, during, and after a psychedelic therapy experience. They’re a critical component of improving outcomes with psychedelic medicine.

Novamind: Leading with research

Industry-leading clinical research is at the core of Novamind. The company has already shown leadership through clinical trials and research initiatives with universities, non-profits and pharmaceutical companies including J&J/Janssen, Otsuka, The University of Austin Texas, Emalex Biosciences, Avanir, and the Ketamine Research Foundation. In addition to the recently announced Merck clinical trial, Cedar Clinical Research is currently contracted for seven other clinical trials with various industry sponsors.

In addition to industry-sponsored contracted clinical trials, CCR is also engaged in research collaborations. Most notably, these collaborations include the MAPS-sponsored phase II clinical trial of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for eating disorders, a ketamine-assisted psychotherapy study (KAP) for end-of-life palliative care with the Ketamine Research Foundation, and a ketamine study to treat suicidal ideation in partnership with the University of Texas, Austin. Novamind’s Cedar Clinical Research division became widely known for its work in psychedelic medicine following Dr. Robison’s role as a Principal Investigator in Utah for a clinical trial that led to the first approval of J&J/Janssen’s Spravato™ in March 2019.

Growth on the Horizon

The statistics for treatment resistant depression alone shows the need for greater access to more varieties of mental health services. Despite Novamind’s recently expanded clinic capacity to meet 2020’s record demand, patients still need to schedule appointments two weeks in advance. The company aims to meet that demand with a specific growth strategy. Novamind’s core clinic business is based in the US and a geographical expansion plan is underway. That expansion plan is a mix of opening new clinics as well as acquiring proven clinics with unique experience in not only mainstream mental health services but also in innovative treatment modalities including psychedelic medicines.

“Our expansion approach allows us to take advantage of the current climate around policy change for psychedelic medicine and to grow in a responsible way,” says Pierre Bou-Mansour, Novamind COO. “We will be opportunistic in our acquisitions and targeted in our organic growth – I can see us doubling our footprint by the end of 2021.”

With the execution of its growth initiatives, Novamind is expanding its range of therapeutic treatment protocols to effectively provide access for clients to alternative mental health modalities across its expanded network of clinics. Through its successful clinics, Novamind is setting a new standard for mental healthcare and positioning itself as a mental health treatment network that patients prefer and trust.

“The relationship between Novamind’s clinics and clinical research work is symbiotic, because the clinical trials are key sources of expertise in new therapies that we can offer to the clients at our clinics,” says Bou-Mansour.

As for this new research contract, Merck selecting Novamind is a significant indicator. It foretells growth, for sure, but also demonstrates a recognition of Novamind’s clinical research capabilities by a top-tier pharmaceutical company. It shows that leading pharmaceutical companies recognize the gaps that exist in care, and that innovative mental health treatment companies can help support pharmaceutical giants develop effective, evidence-based treatments.

It also shows that psychedelic medicine companies that put a focus on the patient, and the research to better serve them, are uniquely positioned for growth: Companies like Novamind.

FULL DISCLOSURE: Novamind Inc. is a client of Stockhouse Publishing.

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