It seems that a week doesn't go by without a psychedelic company saying it has filed for a patent of some sort. This process can be confusing as the first assumption is that these companies are trying to patent a natural product. It isn't difficult to see how this misunderstanding happens. The headlines shout psychedelic company! Psilocybin! Patent! That, however, isn't exactly what is happening.
Truth Behind Psychedelic Patents
A great piece on Microdose breaks much of this down and explains the reasons why psychedelic companies are pursuing these patents. First, the plants that the medicines are based on can't be patented. Products in nature belong to the public and thus can't be patented. Microdose wrote, "One company cannot claim it as intellectual property to exclusively profit from it." However companies can "create new molecules based on natural psychedelics to create an improved drug. These new, altered molecules are patentable and provide the necessary framework to create new and focused treatments for different neurological and psychological health conditions from their natural predecessors."
If a company can get the patent, then it allows the treatment to be developed. Microdose added: "Without patents, competitors could easily duplicate the manufacturing of a drug and there would be no incentive for anyone to create these new treatments. Many of these companies are filing for provisional patents. These applications are issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and it helps to protect a new invention from being copied during the 12-month period before a formal patent application is filed. The idea is that it gives a company to test or refine a product before committing to the expensive and time-intensive process of a formal application."
Recent Patent Applications
Here are some of the companies that have filed for patents over the past few months, according to Psilocybin Alpha:
Earlier this week, NeonMind (NMDBF) filed for four provisional patents. Psilocybin Alpha said, "The provisional patent applications include data derived from NeonMind's initial preclinical trial that began in November 2020, which examined the potential use of psilocybin as a treatment for weight loss. NeonMind's proprietary preclinical data shows promise that both low and high dose psilocybin may reduce weight gain and that the reduction in weight gain can occur in a short period of time." The company recently appointed pharmaceutical executive Robert Tessarolo as its President and CEO.
Tessarolo has 25 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry. Most recently he held the position of president and CEO of Mind Medicine (Mindmed), a psychedelic drug discovery and drug development company now traded on the NEO exchange, from September 2019 to January 2020. Prior to that, Tessarolo was headed Cipher Pharmaceuticals, a diversified specialty pharmaceutical company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
In January, Mydecine (MYCOF) filed for seven patents. Psilocybin Alpha said, "The developing patent portfolio from Mydecine is targeted at addressing the known shortcomings of psilocybin for medical uses and includes novel drug design and delivery mechanisms, precise doseable formulations and new technologies for improved use of psilocybin in a medical context" The company submitted a formal application to list its common shares on the Nasdaq. "We believe the company is entering an accelerated growth phase and the timing could not be better for listing our Shares to Nasdaq," said Josh Bartch, CEO & Chair of Mydecine.
In December, Revive Therapeutics (RVVTF) filed for a provisional patent application for "novel combinations of certain FDA approved drugs with psilocybin as a potential therapeutic option to reduce the side effects and improve the effectiveness of psilocybin to treat neurological disorders." Also in December the company said it was acquiring PharmaTher's intellectual property pertaining to psilocybin. PharmaTher is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Newscope Capital Corp. (PHRRF) , a specialty life sciences company focused on the research and development of psychedelic pharmaceuticals. The company has filed for provisional patents for psilocybin capsules, gummies, and oral strips.
In September, Field Trip (FTRPF) filed for a provisional patent described by Psilocybin Alpha as "a novel psychedelic molecule derived from the chemical structures of known psychedelic substances. FT-104 is designed to provide unique and useful pharmacological features to make a commercially viable alternative to naturally derived substances such as psilocybin, DMT and LSD. As we formulated our drug development strategy, we focused on new molecules (NCEs) that: (i) offer shorter duration of psychedelic experiences to make them more practical and convenient for use in the clinic; (ii) had similar potency to psilocybin or MDMA; (iii) had low potential for addiction; and (iv) would be simple to synthesize while differentiated and structurally distinct from psilocybin or other existing 5HT2A receptor agonists," commented Dr. Nathan Bryson, Field Trip's Chief Science Officer. "After significant research and due diligence, we initiated synthesis of a battery of small molecules, from which FT-104 was selected as our lead molecule. I am excited to take FT-104 into the next phases of our drug development program."
In September of 2020, Lobe Sciences (GTSIF) filed for three provisional patents to administer to an individual a psilocybin-derived agent and/or N-acetylcysteine via nasal delivery system, in combination with programmed virtual and augmented reality (VR, AR) simulations. In February, the company announced the completion and testing of the proof-of-concept prototype of its proprietary nasal mist device. The company said that the device design will allow for the precise control and delivery of medicines through the nasal cavity directly to the olfactory bulb for faster and more efficient uptake of psilocybin and other medicines that target the brain.
Philip Young, CEO of Lobe, said at the time that "Advancing through the initial development and testing of our innovative nasal mist device will position Lobe as the leader in the delivery of effective therapeutics to treat patients suffering from mild traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other mental health conditions. We intend to further the development of this device leading to commercialization. Completing the development of this device will enable the patients to easily treat themselves where they live and work."
In March of 2020, Champignon (SHRMF) filed for four provisional patents described by Psilocybin Alpha as a "combination of psilocybin and cannabidiol in treating mTBI with PTSD or standalone PTSD, novel delivery systems," and treatments for PTSD and OCD that are "enhanced by timely measured dosages of psilocybin and cannabidiol." The company has struggled with restating its financial filings with the Canadian Stock Exchanges and as such only the OTC shares are being traded at this time.
In more mature markets, filing for patents would be a nonevent but since psychedelics are so new, these are worth watching. There is clearly a land grab for application processes as well as formulations. While some of it feels like these companies are casting a wide net, it surely makes sense to be creative and file now at the beginning of the mushroom mania.