…revolutionize [universal access to basic] mental health care
When I ask about the rationale for patenting something that grows freely out of wood chips, Compass Pathways CEO George Goldsmith [responds] “Well, the synthesized psilocybin is the highest levels of purity, so it doesn’t grow out of wood chips. The wood chips and the mushrooms are free.”
There are… activists railing against anyone perceived as trying to confine access to psychedelics to the wealthy, connected, lucky, and entitled. To spur universal access, Decriminalize Nature has created a legal template for other cities to follow. Larry Norris says more than 100 have requested information packets… including Santa Cruz, Calif., which passed the measure in late January . Berkeley and Chicago aren’t far behind … For another perspective, I contact Carey Turnbull, who sits on the boards for the Heffter Research Institute and the Usona Institute, both nonprofits founded to promote psychedelics research. In November, Usona received its own FDA breakthrough therapy designation for psilocybin for the treatment of a major depressive disorder. Usona gives its product to qualified researchers, much the way the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gives away the polio vaccine. Turnbull agrees to talk on the condition that I make it clear that he’s speaking for himself, not on behalf of any institution. The company’s [Compass Pathways] first patent filing, in October 2018, had 27 claims of novelty. Turnbull’s attorney considered all of them specious and suggested that he hire chemists and psychiatrists to review them. Their consensus: “He seems to be attempting to patent Albert Hofmann’s means of making psilocybin,” Turnbull says. Hofmann famously discovered LSD, but he also was the first to identify psilocybin and to invent a way to make it synthetically in a laboratory. “So we go to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and say, ‘Look, he’s attempting to patent prior art or inherent properties.’ Compass simply withdrew all 27 points.” Compass resubmitted an application with 10 points of novelty. The chemists reiterated their case, and Turnbull objected to the USPTO. Compass again withdrew. Finally, Compass filed a single point, which was approved on Dec. 31, 2019. As Fortune went to press, Turnbull’s lawyer was preparing another objection. I pored over the USPTO website and a host of documents provided to me by Turnbull. They all substantiate his characterization of events. I also read a document from the European Patent Office, which rejected all 27 claims of novelty, citing prior art by Hofmann, the pharmaceutical firm Sandoz, and others. Turnbull assures me he’s not anti-capitalist but insists Compass is trying to block competition. “You can see they’re hanging on by their fingernails,” he says. “I don’t object to Compass having patents or making profit. I object to their claiming ownership of IP that exists in the public commons rather than contributing to the public commons. Compass has shown almost no creativity. Their pitch sheet says, essentially, we’re going to establish exclusivity and make billions. But they’re entering a field that has been extensively researched by others.” … As for locking up access to Onyx, Goldsmith says: “Our manufacturing contracts are exclusive, in line with standard industry practice.” … Many in the psychedelics community are wary of pharma’s typical prescription model, which they feel maximizes profits and dependency over healing. Psychedelics, by contrast, are the kind of thing you take maybe just once, or every few months. The same sources have mixed feelings about ATAI: Yes, the company is investing heavily and increasing the profile of psychedelics. But can ATAI’s investors be trusted? Then there’s the issue of patents. ATAI and the ventures it’s backing have been aggressively trying to patent psychedelics-related intellectual property to establish exclusivity. For this reason one source characterizes them as the Darth Vader of the psychedelics galaxy. I relay the sentiment to Angermayer, who isn’t fazed. “We’re trying to bring psychedelics into the medical world so it will be affordable to people because it will be paid for by the health care system,” he says. “The only way to do that is with patents.” One of ATAI’s primary investments… is Compass Pathways.
Original Article (Forbes):
Business gets ready to trip: how psychedelic drugs may revolutionize mental health care
Artwork Fair Use: Mädi & phairzios