The psychedelics industry has come a long way toward not being seen as just a counterculture adventure, and a big part of that is due to the careful research being undertaken.
Switzerland-based Carvin Medicines, a global biopharmaceutical company developing next-generation psychedelic medicines, is one of the few psychedelics companies to have an exclusive partnership with a pharmaceutical company, Alpex Pharma S.A. in Mezzovico, Switzerland.
Alpex is a 37-year-old Swiss pharma company, which has the facilities, partnerships, and FDA approval to develop, manufacture, formulate, and register drug candidates. Alpex has launched projects focusing on longevity and novel medicine development.
Carvin now has two projects underway: One geared toward creating a nonaddictive pain solution through micro- and low-dose formulations of LSD, and the other focused on developing a psilocybin-based drug that promotes neuroplasticity, or the brain’s ability to change, adapt, and modify its structure. The latter can potentially treat debilitating mental and functional disorders, such as stroke recovery, where treatment and recovery previously were not options.
“We made the decision to focus on pain essentially, and then within the pain segment, we narrowed it down to focus on fibromyalgia and also chronic pain disorder,” Kevin Mckenzie, co-founder, president and director of Carvin, said. “These are indications that have unmet medical needs. It was an area where we felt that this novel compound, LSD, had a great deal of potential, but it was also an indication area where we had a lot of prior expertise. So it made a lot of sense to focus on it.”
Mckenzie, who also serves as president of Alpex, said that they also recognized that there had been research on pain and using LSD to treat pain at Maastricht University and that Carvin was able take advantage of that research.
“We also engaged with the university and were able to get key scientists that completed that research onto our team, which gave us quite a bit of a leg up to focus on this area,” he said.
The company made the decision to execute the in-vivo studies and the clinical trials primarily in Israel, where they were able to tap into entrepreneurial challenging drug development.
“In addition to Tel Aviv University where we’re executing clinical trials, we partnered with a hospital in Israel that had a patient who had fibromyalgia and chronic pain disorder,” Mckenzie said. “There was quite a base of patients that had already been experimenting with varying dosages of LSD. And we had strong anecdotal evidence from these patients that this would work.”
Working in Switzerland has brought new focus on the therapeutic value of LSD. “Switzerland has performed the most clinical trials in the world on psychedelics, behind the U.S.,” Mckenzie said. “So it’s really at the forefront of psychedelic research and drug development. And then we have this backdrop of it being the birthplace of LSD. It’s quite natural that we focus on that compound, and it gave us some advantages to, for example, establish an interactive supply chain as well.”
The advantage of their partnership with Alpex is that there’s a great deal of trial-and-error experience that Carvin is able to benefit from, Mckenzie said. “On the clinical trials side for instance, Alpex really has an end-to-end solution. So that helps with the research and development, product development and move towards commercialization, manufacturing, and global export,” he said.
“We were able to work with partners that we’ve been working with through Alpex already for decades. And that helps because we’re bringing in a new compound that may have a stigma, like LSD. We’re bringing it to partners that we’ve been working with already for 20 years, so they know we’re not crazy.”
In a big picture outlook, Mckenzie said that he and the Carvin team understand the importance of not getting sick in the first place, practicing preventative health, and taking action on lifestyle.
“But also, we’re of the generation where we are aware that a lot of pharmaceutical products that have been given to the public during our lifetime can come with very serious side effects and consequences,” he said. “I would say that’s the major passionate driver to lead the change.
“It’s one of the main reasons that we’re really moving towards novel medicine. It’s where we see the future, and part of that is because there’s such an opportunity to really replace these opioid-based medications.”