Numinus Science Officer Sharan Sidhu: We Won’t Patent IP That Makes Psychedelics Inaccessible
Earlier this week, The Dales Report sat down with Sharan Sidhu, science officer and general manager at psychedelics company Numinus Bioscience to learn more about some of the exciting news coming out of the company’s busy research arm.
In recent weeks, Numinus has added a major research space, enhanced its contract services, accelerated its IP development, and increased its overall psychedelics supply capacity.
“There are a lot of new developments that we’ve announced recently and a lot of work in the pipeline as well,” Sidhu said.
Meeting Science with Regulatory Compliance
Sidhu comes from a background in highly regulated industries, starting in the natural health product industry in Canada in 2011.
“Essentially, when I came into that industry, there was a lot of upheaval and there were a lot of companies that were feeling the strain of changes in regulation,” she says. “I provided a consulting service to these organizations.”
During her time working with natural health products, Sidhu consulted for products such as kava and oil of oregano, the latter of which was pegged to come off the market. Sidhu organized a scientific advisory panel which presented evidence to the Canadian Health Food Association and oil of oregano was permitted to stay on the market as a natural health product.
“I really enjoyed meeting science with regulatory compliance, and helping industry,” she said. Since then, she’s gone on to consult in other industries including food, cannabis, and more recently, psychedelics.
Sidhu said she is most excited by the ground-breaking work being conducted in the psychedelics industry, despite regulations that currently prohibit it from flourishing.
In her role at Numinus Bioscience, she said the goals of the company’s research arm and its clinics are the same: to bring psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy to the forefront for assisting in alleviating mental health conditions.
“What makes us different from our clinics is we develop medicines, we do the research, the primary research, the benchtop research,” she said. “We hand it over to Dr. Evan Wood, or any other entity looking to develop these products, and then the clinical trials take place.” Dr. Evan Wood is the company’s chief medical officer.
Revenue Generation at Numinus Bioscience
Numinus Bioscience is able to generate revenue through its lab-testing service. “We have an existing high throughput service, … [which includes] standardized testing, and we develop standardized tests,” Sidhu said.
The lab has also started developing testing for ketamine and LSD, as per its recent CSDA licence amendment.
“The idea is that each product category requires testing at certain stages,” she said. “We’re setting up our high throughput to be able to do that not just for the compounds that we have today, but also continuously developing for compounds that may come into client pipelines as well.
“We want to be able to provide a testing service, because without it you can’t actually put products on the market,” she said.
While many other companies in the space seem to be in a rush to patent drugs and processes that are not yet regulated, Sidhu said the company’s own patent strategy differs, allowing for “a certain accessibility.”
“We don’t want to create any kind of patents that would make the therapeutics inaccessible, whether it’s cost-prohibitive, or whether there’s too much IP around it,” she said. “Our mandate is to bring accessible therapy… we’re not creating IP for the sake of creating IP. We would create IP if it was going to make the therapy more accessible.”
The Future of Psychedelics
Based on existing data, Sidhu is confident that psychedelics have the potential to create a lasting change in the healthcare system. She said where the current solutions to mental health conditions only deal with symptoms, psychedelics can help people get to the root of their issues.
As far as regulations go, Sidhu said Health Canada has shown positive signs, including looking at the regulations surrounding special access to drugs that would include psychedelics.
“Right now, special access does not include compounds under the Controlled Drugs and Substances licences, so having that changed in the special access regulations actually [would] permit practitioners to ask for psychedelics for treatment,” she said.
“We have seen that under section 56 [exemptions] but bringing it under special access does essentially make it much easier.”