INN visited Field Trip Health’s Toronto space to get a closer look at the clinic business model for the burgeoning psychedelic drug industry.
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As investors latch onto the promise of psychedelic medicines, clinics and the clinic network management business are poised to take on a major role in the psychedelics investment story.
These clinics, which offer legally available psychedelic treatments to patients, are just one segment of the broad psychedelics market. The companies operating them are aiming to become hubs for the administration of psychedelic treatments and want to transform the perception of these drugs.
Currently, most clinics provide therapies based on the use of ketamine as an agent that launches an in-depth drug trip for patients looking for relief from mental health conditions like anxiety or depression.
One of these new clinics opened its doors to the Investing News Network (INN) as a way for investors to get a closer look at the business proposition.
Field Trip Health launched its first ketamine treatment clinic, located in Toronto, back in March — just days before Canada went into lockdown due to the novel coronavirus. The clinic was deemed an essential service and has continued to see patients with established health precautions in place.
With all regulations in place, INN spoke with some of the staff at the clinic and got a firsthand look at the path patients take inside.
Taking a look inside Field Trip’s ketamine clinic
Located on the edge of the Entertainment District in downtown Toronto, the Field Trip clinic looks like a modern office environment at first glance.
Opening into a wide space of waiting areas all leading to the therapy rooms, the clinic blends new wave decor and neon lighting. It’s full of greenery and has a view of the city in motion at a busy corner.
Inside the actual therapy rooms though there is no city commotion. Patients are guided during their trips with the help of customizable mood lighting, noise-canceling headphones, eye covers and even weighted blankets. The intention is to make patients feel as relaxed as possible.
The therapy room where patients go through their ketamine drug trips at the Field Trip clinic. Photo by Bryan Mc Govern.
The ketamine is administered by clinic staff via a dissolvable component ingested by the patient.
Canada defines ketamine as an anesthetic drug for medical use that produces a dissociation from the body by the mind of the user. While the drug is deemed as a controlled substance under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the country views it as having “legitimate uses in medicine.” Only authorized operations may legally sell, possess or produce ketamine.
Sabina Pillai, registered psychotherapist with Field Trip, said since the clinic opened there’s been a wide mix of patients in terms of newcomers to the world of psychedelics and those with significant experience.
The team at the clinic aims to set all patients at ease, regardless of their previous experience with psychedelics, in order to enhance their drug trips. Pillai said every trip is different, but if patients go into the experience with an “open mind” the results will be better.
Pillai is one of the clinic workers who’s tasked with staying alongside patients throughout their trips. The psychotherapist told INN that based on the wide variety of possible reactions, it’s better to have an expert inside the room. According to Pillai, the range in reactions goes anywhere from joy and happiness to frustration or disappointment given the weight of the introspective trip.
“It’s empowering for us,” Sharon Bella, respiratory therapist at the Toronto location of Field Trip, said of being a participant in the patient treatment process using ketamine.
The Field Trip clinic has space for patients to relax before and after their sessions. Photo by Bryan Mc Govern.
Referral process for Field Trip’s clinic
Before any patient goes to the Field Trip clinic, they must be referred by their psychiatrist. Then the Field Trip team will evalute the patient and determine if ketamine-based treatment truly is the best option.
Ronan Levy, founder and executive chairman of Field Trip, previously told INN the program includes six ketamine treatment sessions in addition to six therapy sessions and three integration therapy sessions.
According to the executive, the entire course will cost a patient C$4,700. Levy said the price tag is on par with high-end psychotherapy, given that each session costs an average of C$250 to C$300. While no insurance currently offers coverage, there are split payment options available for patients.
The actual ketamine sessions can last between 45 and 90 minutes, and every time a patient goes on a drug trip they debrief with a psychotherapist after.
Monica Mina, nurse practitioner with Field Trip, worked at a traditional hospital before joining the psychedelics space. Like Pillai, Mina told INN it is helpful for patients to have an open mind to this method of treatment.
Patients at the Field Trip clinic have ample ways to relax before experiencing their trip, including weighted blankets. Photo by Bryan Mc Govern.
Expanding the Field Trip brand in North America
The management team of Field Trip doesn’t want to stop just with Toronto. Before the effects of the pandemic took root, the firm was in the process of opening new locations in New York and Los Angeles. Overall, the psychedelics company envisions opening 75 locations in North America, but for now its flagship Toronto location represents the only clinic for Field Trip.
“There’s going to be a very common and uniform Field Trip brand experience,” Levy said of the planned psychedelic treatment clinic network.
The executive said the plan is for treatment options at the clinics to remain consistent. However, there may be tweaks in the future, depending on the future availability of legal psychedelic treatments.
“As unique opportunities emerge, we may incorporate different offerings into different clinics starting on a trial basis to see how effective they are and whether there’s a lot of demand for those kinds of services,” Levy told INN.
The clinic from Field Trip isn’t the first of its kind in the city, since the Canadian Rapid Treatment Center of Excellence (CRTCE) opened to patients looking for ketamine treatments back in 2018. Dr. Roger McIntyre, who leads Champignon Brands (CSE:SHRM,OTCQB:SHRMF) as its CEO, opened the CRTCE clinic.
Some of the unique design choices at the Field Trip clinic in Toronto. Photo by Bryan Mc Govern.
Field Trip considering options for going public
Investors looking to add psychedelics names to their portfolios are starting to see a run of new listings hitting the market thanks to the growing positive sentiment surrounding this market.
And it’s not hard to see why — in a market report, drug research firm Prohibition Partners indicates: “Psychedelics could be used in the treatment of PTSD and depression — issues that are affecting millions of people across the globe with growing rates of prevalence.” Early projections are placing a US$7 billion value on the entire psychedelics industry by the year 2027.
In light of the recent success stories seen from psychedelics firms going public, the question circling Field Trip has been: When does the firm anticipate going public?
The company completed a US$8.5 million raise back in February, which Levy previously told INN is still mostly available. Field Trip’s expenses faced a halt once COVID-19 took over North America.
Instead of its immediate planned expansion into the US with clinic locations in New York and Los Angeles, Field Trip has started investing in digital therapeutic technology tools to enhance patient access, which Levy said will be crucial for the larger patient experience.
Patients are encouraged to debrief after going through a ketamine drug trip. Photo by Bryan Mc Govern.
When asked about the potential to go public and a likely timeline for this event, the Field Trip executive said the capital-intensive demands of the business will warrant additional funds.
“At the end of the day, we’re building a whole new industry here, it’s probably going to be quite capital intensive,” Levy said.
All the speculation was resolved on June 15, as the company confirmed its intention of going public by way of a proposed transaction. It initially had an agreement with Mira X (TSXV:MIRA.P), but it was quickly set aside in favor of a new deal to go public with Newton Energy (TSXV:NTN.H).
Besides the agreement to launch Field Trip on the public markets, the psychedelics firm announced a private placement that will secure it gross proceeds of C$14 million, indicating a price point of C$2 per share. The transaction is being co-run by boutique bankers Canaccord Genuity and Stifel.
Field Trip will soon join a growing list of companies pursuing ventures into the psychedelic drug industry while raising capital in the Canadian markets.
Clinics are set to play an important role in the development of psychedelics beyond the investment landscape. They will likely serve as the introduction or starting point for many patients gaining interest in the promise of these novel drugs.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Bryan Mc Govern, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.
Editorial Disclosure: The Investing News Network does not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the information reported in the interviews it conducts. The opinions expressed in these interviews do not reflect the opinions of the Investing News Network and do not constitute investment advice. All readers are encouraged to perform their own due diligence.