Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Last year was a wild ride for the psychedelic medicine industry. We had a rush of new players on the scene, headline-grabbing NASDAQ uplists by companies like MindMed, and a multi-billion dollar IPO by atai Life Sciences. And despite some extreme market fluctuations in the second half of the year, the psychedelic medicine industry has managed to cement itself as a legitimate biotech sector worthy of investor confidence.
While 2021 might have been the year psychedelics made their breakout appearance, 2022 could be the year that the industry really makes its mark. The next 12 months will be filled with advanced clinical trial results and significant milestones, with potential mergers and increased interest from Big Pharma.
Predictions? Unfortunately, I left my crystal ball at home. But here are what some key leaders in the psychedelic medicine industry have to say.
Related: Here Are Some Smart Cannabis Predictions for 2022
1. Psychedelic medicine will gain legitimacy in both government and scientific circles
‘’We recently saw the US government funding a study on psilocybin – the first time this has happened in decades. The NIH also just hosted a free webinar on psychedelics. All of this hints at a future of acceptance of psychedelics on the federal level. I feel optimistic about the future of psychedelics. We have an overwhelming positive, ever-growing body of literature demonstrating the safety and efficacy of psychedelics in treating a variety of ailments, and even out-performing the currently accepted pharmaceutical model. There’s an unfortunate statistic in medicine, however, which is that it takes an average of 17 years between when science proves something and the practice of the commonplace doctor changing to reflect that new knowledge. I trust that that 17-year gap won’t be happening with respect to psychedelics, thankfully: There are too many people working hard on the ground to close that gap. Patients are asking questions, and therapists and clinicians have no choice but to lean in and learn. It’s an exciting time.’’- Dr. Erica Zelfand (aka “DrZ”), Family Doctor, Medical Writer, Speaker
“The last few years we have seen psychedelics tackle the mental health industry, and I think the natural progression will be into longevity science. I mean, if you are healthier mentally it makes sense that you’d be curious to see how you can stay around longer (in a healthier body).” – Julia Mirer MD, Director of Strategy, Nushama
2. Psychedelics will be shown to be a natural fit for the innovation economy
‘’I believe the industry will embrace the new technologies of Web 3.0 and their inherent connection to the psychedelic experience. I think that the MAPS Phase 3 trials will continue to show positive results for MDMA to treat severe PTSD.’’ – Connor Haslam, CEO, Microdose
‘’Technology. Machine Learning will play a critical role in drug discovery. Psychedelic drug discovery methods quite often lagged in the ’60s. We should not be at the video game console stage of the ’60s in psychedelic medicine. The smartphone came along and we know what happened next.
“Location. Whilst some countries sit on their hands’ others shall embrace this category with open arms. Patients often only need psychedelic therapy once or twice. We know the afterglow lasts and patients that need access today shall seek out locations that offer help today not five years from today.’’ – Richard Skaife, Founding Partner, The Conscious Fund
3. 2022 will see industry evolution and growth opportunities
‘’More than 50% of small public caps in the psychedelic sector will fail to raise additional capital and will have to close the company or sell it very cheap to other major players. IP challenges will heat up and start to influence companies’ futures. Big Pharma will start selectively investing in the best players with the most robust IP.’’- Ken Belotsky, partner at Negev Capital
‘’2022 will go down in history as the breakout year for the psychedelic mental health revolution. America was suffering from an exponential increase in mental health problems prior to Covid. This trend was only exacerbated during the first year of Covid. But as global fatigue from the oppression of the virus and social distancing has taken its toll as we go into the third successive year, the mental health crisis is at an unprecedented level. Like a hero coming to the rescue in the 11th hour, the psychedelic mental health revolution will transform the future of mankind in ways even more unprecedented than the global pandemic.
“As with any product or service that emerges from niche markets to become the status quo mass-market solution, prices will inevitably go down with these economies of scale. Irwin Naturals intends to behave with a B Corp. people-first mentality, as we seek to lower patient costs even before the natural widespread evolution toward lower costs.’’ – Klee Irwin, Irwin Naturals
‘’We will see a more focused, enriched, and targeted drug discovery engine employing Artificial Intelligence screening to identify top candidates for each program based on drug-like properties, predicted pharmaceutical activity, and intellectual property strength.’’ Dr. Joseph Tucker, CEO, Enveric Biosciences
A market estimated to reach into the tens of billions of dollars will inevitably have both growing pains and monumental moments, with shifting geography carving out new paths forward. The wild west early days seem to be fading into the rearview mirror; we’ve got our legs under us now. 2022 could be a year of major milestones for the space.