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Making mushrooms…

“We do need to be vigilant,” Oregon Representative Earl Blumenauer, one of the biggest advocates for psychedelic policy reform in Congress… “Big companies are going to try and monopolize drug therapies with psilocybin and psychedelics, just like Big Pharma has attempted to patent everything in sight, and then spend more time and money being able to manipulate the patents and extend and evergreen them.”

The pharmaceutical industry has long relied on the patent system to keep prices exorbitantly high, prevent further research, and suppress competition, all at the cost of patient safety. An analysis by the Initiative for Medicines, Access, and Knowledge found that the 10 best-selling pharmaceutical drugs in 2019 were covered by an average of nearly 70 patents, and the prices of these drugs increased by 71 percent over a span of five years. In November 2020, voters in Oregon passed a pair of historic drug policy ballot measures. The first was Measure 110, a proposal to decriminalize low-level drug possession, with 58 percent in favor; the second was Measure 109, a proposal to grant legal access to psilocybin (the psychoactive component in magic mushrooms) for mental health treatment, with 56 percent in favor. It was an unprecedented turn of events in drug policy. But as always in the United States, businessmen were waiting in the wings. Compass Pathways, a biotech firm backed by the right-wing Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, had been preparing for a “psychedelic revolution” and the subsequent investor windfall, accumulating patents here and abroad for its synthesized formulation of psilocybin and its use in therapy. In a patent application the same year as the Oregon ballot, Compass Pathways filed claims for specific aspects of psychedelic therapy, including “the room is decorated using muted colors” and “the room comprises a bed or a couch.” The claims also included behaviors like holding hands, the therapist providing “reassuring physical contact,” and the use of breathing exercises. This attempt to commodify the basic elements of psychedelic therapy, or trip sitting, signals that psychedelics are the latest trend to catch Big Pharma’s eye. Compass Pathways was cofounded by George Goldsmith and Ekaterina Malievskaia, a wealthy married couple. The London-based company started as a nonprofit but quietly transitioned to for-profit status in 2017, a move that was criticized by a number of experts and researchers in the psychedelic community… reported in 2018. After building its business on top of years of expert research and Indigenous knowledge, Compass Pathways wants to dominate the market, filing broad patent claims to try to gain ownership over the nascent field… with the science around psychedelics still evolving, Blumenauer said, casting such a broad net with patents intended to forestall competition “would be a tremendous step backward.”

Original Article (The Nation):
Making mushrooms legal
Artwork Fair Use: Arquus

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