Mental health has moved to the forefront of modern medical care. Seeking help for mental illness is no longer the taboo it once was. Many patients suffering from depression, anxiety, PTSD, OCD, and other disorders have found traditional medical approaches insufficient and are looking for alternatives. No more so than women, who are often overlooked when it comes to drug development.
The psychedelic shift
Many are finding these medical alternatives in the acceptance of psychedelics such as ketamine and psilocybin, which can provide some users with significant relief from depression, anxiety, and other disorders. Psychedelics are also being used to treat chronic pain and lessen the side effects of chemotherapy. Patients with neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, and glaucoma have also seen relief from such alternative treatment approaches.
The COVID pandemic further shone a spotlight on the potential for psychedelics to treat mental health needs, as well as sleep disturbances and chronic pain. While traditional medications like SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) can have severe side effects and high relapse rates, some believe that psychedelics can avoid those issues.
A market that’s sprouting up like…mushrooms
There is significant growth potential for investments in psychedelic drug derivatives as used for medical treatment. While we are still in the very early stages of these breakthrough treatments that are poised to disrupt the pharmaceutical industry in a major way, researchers expect the FDA to approve the use of MDMA for treating PTSD by 2023, and the use of psilocybin for depression by 2025.
Once seen in a less-than-favorable light, psychedelics and other formerly criminalized substances are being repurposed and remarketed as legitimate and sometimes preferable alternatives to traditional medicines. For instance, 36 American states have already approved the use of medical cannabis.
Government regulations are continually being revised as the therapeutic potential of psychedelic substances gains more mainstream acceptance. The increased acceptance and legalization of these substances could translate into a research and development boom for tailored, high-quality psychedelics. It could also be safer to use psychedelics than ever before because psychedelics approved for medical use are safety assured and less likely to contain contaminants.
As with all transformative changes, the psychedelic drug investment space is still an emerging market, though it is moving quickly. Investors may access it through direct stock purchases, psychedelic ETFs or other investment vehicles. Whatever they might choose, it’s worth considering the place for specifically female-targeted treatments.
The overlooked sex: Psychedelics for females
To date, psychedelic medications have not been equitably developed for all segments of the population. Studies have shown that women are twice as likely to take antidepressants as men. Women experiencing chronic pain or mood disorders have unique needs and specific symptoms that may differ from those of men.
While women are more likely than men to experience mental health problems like depression and anxiety, doctors often dismiss their concerns as merely hormonal. This not only prevents women from getting the proper help, it can also deter them from seeking that help in the first place.
As a result, women are often overlooked when it comes to drug development. Women’s needs have not been the focus of mental health solutions. Researchers are finally beginning to address women’s issues, but there is still a long way to go.
“Women’s voices not being heard is the root of many of the problems in the world.” Padma Lakshmi’s quote, while focused on entrepreneurship, rings true for the healthcare and psychedelics industry as well. The next-gen option of psychedelic medicine is steadily gaining traction as a disruptive alternative to classic mental health treatment, but are women being left behind?
Women’s mental and physical health concerns had been largely ignored even within this progressive industry. That imbalance may soon be a thing of the past, thanks to the companies that are revolutionizing what is already a revolutionary field.
Aphrodite Health is the first US-based biotech launched in June by women, for women. The company seeks to promote psychedelic medicines that holistically address women’s specific mental and physical health challenges.
Aphrodite Health CEO and co-founder Tesla La Touche explains that the company seeks to elevate women’s health within the psychedelic medicine industry. La Touche has extensive experience in the healthcare realm and is proud to now be heading the female-focused brand. Aphrodite Health’s founders have backgrounds in the tech, biopharma, cannabis, and the consumer goods industries.
Aphrodite Health also plans to launch an antidepressant designed to target hormone-related mood disorders in menopause and sex-hormone disorders. The potential role for psychedelics in addressing women’s health-related needs provides an opportunity in the market.
The future is female
Those following the psychedelics industry hope that Aphrodite Health and similar companies will effect necessary change; and that inclusivity of women’s needs in the mental health space can propel the psychedelics industry forward.
Drug development and clinical research are an opportunity for equality in women’s mental health needs. Psychedelics show promise in helping mental health sufferers, particularly those whose problems had previously been treatment-resistant.
In this realm investor attitudes can also support pharmaceutical companies and their work with psychedelics. If support for women-oriented companies blossoms, this could affect the research being done and ultimately the treatments offered.
Psychedelics offer tremendous scope for the holistic transformation of western medicine. Psychedelic companies that offer support and solutions for women-specific healthcare needs are leading two relatively new medical developments towards a new era.
The Fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses must be considered carefully before investing. The prospectus contains this and other important information about the investment company. Please read carefully before investing. A hard copy of the prospectuses can be requested by calling 833.333.9383.
Investing involves risk. Principal loss is possible. As an ETF, the fund may trade at a premium or discount to NAV. Shares of any ETF are bought and sold at market price (not NAV) and are not individually redeemed from the Fund. The Fund is not actively managed and would not sell a security due to current or projected under performance unless that security is removed from the Index or is required upon a reconstitution of the Index.
A portfolio concentrated in a single industry or country, may be subject to a higher degree of risk. Specifically, the Index (and as a result, the Fund) is expected to be concentrated in Psychedelics Healthcare and Medical Cannabis companies. Such companies may depend largely on the government regulation and their profitability can be significantly affected by restriction on government reimbursements for medical expenses, rising costs of products and services, pricing pressure, limited product lines, intellectual property rights, and long and costly government product approval processes. The investments rely on U.S. and Canadian regulation of psychedelic, healthcare and cannabis, and the fund could be adversely affected by changes in these regulations.
The Fund will not invest directly in or hold ownership in any companies that engage in cannabis- or psychedelics-related business unless permitted by national and local laws of the relevant jurisdiction, including U.S. federal and state laws. Accordingly, the Fund does not currently invest (directly or indirectly) in companies located in the United States if their cannabis- or psychedelics-related business activities are illegal under U.S. federal law, even if such activities are legal under state law. In the United States and Canada, the medical and recreational use of certain psychedelic drugs, including psilocybin, is currently illegal. There is no guarantee that psychedelic drugs or psychedelic inspired drugs will ever be approved as medicines in either jurisdiction.
The Fund is considered to be non-diversified, so it may invest more of its assets in the securities of a single issuer or a smaller number of issuers. Investments in foreign securities involve certain risks including risk of loss due to foreign currency fluctuations or to political or economic instability. Small and mid-cap companies are subject to greater and more unpredictable price changes than securities of large-cap companies.
PSY is new with a limited operating history.
Read more about PSY here, including performance and holdings: https://www.defianceetfs.com/psy/. Fund holdings are subject to change and should not be considered recommendations to buy or sell any security. Aphrodite Health is not currently held in the Fund.
Opinions expressed are subject to change at any time, are not guaranteed, and should not be considered investment advice.
PSY is distributed by Foreside Fund Services, LLC.