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Pharma Giants Are Now In The Psychedelic Business

July 27, 2023
x min read

Last week, Pharma giant Johnson and Johnson released their quarterly numbers. And there was one thing that stood out: Spravato.

Spravato is their esketamine drug which is a nasal spray, administered in a clinical setting and for individuals with treatment resistant depression. Meaning, they are not responding to other treatments or medications.

After the FDA approved Spravato in 2019, Johnson and Johnson hadn’t revealed much about the growth of the drug or it’s adoption into a clinical setting.

However, the latest quarterly report gave a true insight into the state of Spravato as a drug.

The Numbers:

  • In the US, Spravato sales were up 93%
  • Worldwide, Spravato sales were up 98%
  • Spravato was the fastest growing drug in Johnson and Johnson’s “Neuroscience” portfolio

Why It Matters:

  • The long standing question with psychedelics as therapeutics and therapies has been that it hasn’t been widely rolled out in a clinical setting yet. This changes that
  • The rapid growth of Spravato demonstrates that there is clearly a need for new drugs to be developed in mental healthcare, as current treatments fall short for many
  • Johnson and Johnson represents the first true Pharma company to enter and commercialise a psychedelic derivative drug

The Fine Print:

  • For a variety of reasons, esketamine is not considered a classic psychedelic. For this reason, many are hesitant to call this true adoption for psychedelics
  • Spravato numbers were not even reported until two quarters ago by Johnson and Johnson, despite the drug being approved in 2019. So it’s hard to say how indicative the recent growth is of the future or if there was merely pent up demand that was being realised for the first time this quarter
  • The true validation for psychedelic medicines is still seen to be in the MAPS MDMA assisted therapy Phase III trial for PTSD. Largely because this represents a massive data set and a hard to treat indication in PTSD

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