(Image via Universal Ibogaine)
Investors and markets alike are getting excited about medicinal psychedelics, but this isn’t the first appearance for the plant-based medicinal wave. On the contrary, researchers at universities and government labs have been studying the positive therapeutic effects of psychedelics for years.
Most are familiar with psilocybin, but other psychedelics have been thoroughly researched as well. Ibogaine, a naturally occurring psychoactive substance found in the Tabernanthe iboga plant, was found to have anti-addiction properties by Howard Lotsof in New York back in 1962. The molecule even nearly had a chance to medicalize in the 90’s through FDA trials led by Dr Deborah Mash. However, the need for ibogaine and other psychedelics was deemed relatively minor at the time, and little-understood apparently negative results put this plant-based medicine on the backburner.
What has happened since then has reignited and driven the psychedelics revolution to the tipping point. The increasing prevalence of depression and anxiety has fueled research into psilocybin, MDMA and LSD, and the terrifying scale of the opioid epidemic has brought ibogaine back into the fold as well.
At first, the opioid crisis rolled out slowly, and was misunderstood and mischaracterized by health and government officials alike. Today, however, the scope is clear: opioid addiction has become a global pandemic affecting more than 26 million people worldwide, and overdose from opioids and heroin are the #1 cause of death in Canada and the US for people under the age of 50. The numbers are staggering and rising, from a death toll of 4,460 in Canada in 2018 alone, to costs of $4.7 billion in economic activity in Canada and $696 billion in the US.
While the potentially life-saving ibogaine has sat on the shelf waiting to be utilized, the US addiction treatment industry has ballooned to annual revenues of $40 billion despite a success rate of only 6-10%. Eventually, people started looking elsewhere, and a team of researchers started utilizing ibogaine in an addiction treatment centre in Cancun, Mexico. Over 3,700 patients later, the medically-based ibogaine treatment at ClearSky Recovery has achieved a 95% success rate.
When compared to the industry average and the desperate need for more effective treatments, the numbers from ibogaine are astonishing. And in recognizing the need to bring those solutions to Canada, Universal Ibogaine Inc. (IBO, Forum) is establishing itself as a first mover in the application of ibogaine as a treatment. The Company acquired the exclusive licensing and branding rights from the ClearSky Recovery treatment centre in Cancun and is working to establish a research clinic in Canada and secure GMP ibogaine production. Universal Ibogaine also has a clinical trials roadmap set to capture both the imminent Canadian and global ibogaine markets.
For many, the ibogaine solution and the rollout of Universal Ibogaine seems sudden, but for the Company’s CEO Jeremy Weate, it’s been a long time coming. The former minister-level mining sector adviser first learned about ibogaine ten years ago when working in Africa and quickly realized the importance and potential of the molecule. In a recent interview with Stockhouse Editorial, Weate highlighted that ibogaine was already impressive ten years ago.
“Ibogaine is the next dimension of psychedelics. Classical psychedelics tend to activate the serotonin 2A receptor, but ibogaine targets more than ten different receptor sites. At the same time, it has an incredible history going back centuries. It’s a powerful experience that requires pre-treatment screening and medical supervision and works best in an holistic treatment setting. With Universal Ibogaine and our ClearSky Recovery clinics brand, we’re creating a supportive community in our clinics, which is helping people through their journey. For many deep in addiction, there’s the underlying feeling you may never be able to break your addiction – that for the rest of your life there will be pain, shame, broken relationships, everything. What’s exciting and energising is knowing that ibogaine really can change that.”
The opioid crisis might be the timeliest use for ibogaine treatment, but it’s not the only factor driving adoption of the psychedelic. Ibogaine has been found to be applicable in the detoxification of many addictions, including alcohol, cocaine, and other non-opiate drugs. Naturally, a noticeable amount of interest in ibogaine is coming from existing detox and addiction treatment centres.
Because the team at Universal Ibogaine foresaw the impending global need for ibogaine, the Company is leading on the roll-out of ibogaine treatment globally. They’re already in negotiations with a licensed treatment facility in Manitoba which has responded favorably to the potential of ibogaine, and would help establish a strong revenue generator for Universal Ibogaine with accepted Health Canada detox practices. In addition, the Company has also already had positive discussions with addiction services officials across Canada, including at the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority.
Universal Ibogaine might be seen by most as a global necessity, but the management team knows that establishing a strong business model is vital to that development. Through the licensed and peer-reviewed success at ClearSky Recovery in Cancun, the Company has the building blocks for establishing initial trials and research & development in Canada.
Investors familiar with the healthcare sector know it is one where success is built on establishing two key traits: efficacy and momentum. Universal Ibogaine already has the efficacy angle, which it can utilize to get the first ibogaine treatment trials going in Canada. After that, momentum takes over. The Company plans to set up three model clinics in time for the completion of Phase 3 trials and then roll out a global franchising operation.
And whether luckily or not, the Company is acting at an opportune time for psychedelics. Interest in the sector has built to the point that research is ongoing worldwide, some of the biggest names in business and politics are getting invested in the potential, and companies involved in psychedelics are finding that public markets are embracing them with open arms.
When Weate was first interested in ibogaine ten years ago, he found that his interest would often fall on deaf ears. Even now, more focus has gone into the more commonly known psilocybin and LSD, but in his interview with Stockhouse Editorial, Weate noted that the “psychedelics revolution” is starting to bring ibogaine to the minds of more people, slowly but surely.
“Psychedelics are emanating into the world like a puddle rippling outwards. They’re entering mainstream media in different ways, and in health conferences where there’s a focus on other medicines, psychedelics are there now too. Ibogaine is currently a little behind the curve compared to other plant medicines, but that’s being corrected. Ibogaine is starting to get on everybody’s lips in the psychedelic therapeutic community, and it’s rippling out from there. That’s not to say there aren’t still people who don’t know about ibogaine or raise concerns about its safety profile compared to other treatments, but it’s getting out there that there is nothing like it to treat opiate addiction. And in a medical setting with proper pre-screening, for professionals and doctors and nurses, there are no concerns.”
(Howard Lotsof, who discovered the anti-addiction properties of Ibogaine in 1962 | Image via ICEERS)
Even more relevant to the rollout of Universal Ibogaine is the fact that the world is slowly unwinding from the COVID-19 pandemic and realizing that the opioid crisis has only worsened. In Canada, BC recently announced a record numbers of deaths related to opioid overdoses, and other provinces and states have fallen behind in tracking cases in the first place.
But as the crisis worsens, more pressure is put on officials to look for solutions like Universal Ibogaine. The Company isn’t similar to other psychedelics start-ups focused on production or treatment development; it already has that in its arsenal. Instead, Universal Ibogaine – under the ClearSky Recovery brand – is in the business of rolling out clinics, starting with Canada. At first that involves pushing for Phase II study approval similar to what Health Canada granted other psychedelics substances, and a few years and clinics later, entering Phase III, multi-clinic and multi-country studies.
It’s the early excitement and seriousness that Canada is giving psychedelics that makes it the perfect launching market. Health Canada is widely respected by other global agencies for its care and stringent procedures and can be used as a benchmark-setter, the country already has clinics and universities actively researching psychedelics, and companies involved in the market can enter public markets.
Once Universal Ibogaine is able to establish itself, however, the scale of the opioid pandemic will take it far beyond Canada. Millions globally affected by addiction calls for a lot more than ten or twenty clinics, it calls for hundreds of thousands of ibogaine treatment centres. It’s a multi-billion dollar problem that has evolved without a solution. But the incoming wave of psychedelics like ibogaine and Universal Ibogaine’s proven effective treatment centres are setting up to be the answer.
(Video via Universal Ibogaine)
FULL DISCLOSURE: This is a paid article produced by Stockhouse Publishing.