Tue | Nov 28, 2023

Ja urged to target cash-rich psychedelic market

Published:Friday | July 30, 2021 | 12:09 AMAlbert Ferguson/Gleaner Writer


Wayne Isaacs, a leading investor in the local cannabis sector, says Jamaica must move to increase its clinical trials in the lucrative psilocybin and psychedelic (drug to alter mood) industry or miss multimillion-dollar opportunities to create wealth.

According to Isaacs, chief executive officer of Green Stripes, such a move will not only reduce the cost of clinical trials for stakeholders, but would also increase Jamaica’s credibility in the psychedelic sector.

“I think Jamaica could potentially have missed a golden opportunity with respect to clinical trials,”he told guests at the just-concluded CanEx Psychedelic Summit in Montego Bay. “One of the things I would like to see down here [Jamaica] is a framework or mechanism that can attract more clinical trials.” “If we can conduct clinical trials here, not only does it add value to the industry here, it will also give us the opportunity to conduct much more than we are doing now,” said Isaacs. “It’s much cheaper to conduct trials in Jamaica. That cost is very meaningful, because 30 to 60 per cent of the cost of your clinical trial is what it would cost here in Jamaica, as opposed to it being done in Canada, the US, or in Europe.”

Research scientist and biochemist Dr Lorenzo Gordon agrees with Isaacs that Jamaica is losing out on clinical trials, which could further stimulate the economy.

There are four phases of clinical trials, and Gordon, who is also the vice-dean and head of postgraduate studies at the Caribbean School of Medical Science, believes that if Jamaica can increase its clinical trials offerings, the benefits thereafter will be economically rewarding.

“For any kind of a drug or investigating, phase one would be from approximately US$300m and it can go as high as US$10 million, depending on the evidence that you have to convince the regulators that the drug is safe,” said Gordon

Clinical trials are research studies performed on people, which are aimed at evaluating a medical, surgical, or behavioural intervention. They are the primary way that researchers find out if a new treatment, like a new drug, diet, or medical device, is safe and effective in people.

It is also used to better understand if a new treatment is more effective and/or has less harmful side effects than the standard treatment.

Isaacs further argued that Jamaica has the necessary expertise, including a great patient pool.

“We have the expertise here. We’ve got a great patient population pool here, so clinical trials have to become part of what we consider to be the revenue market for Jamaica in this new industry,” Isaacs said.

“We cannot just leave the revenue model to the companies who are operating in the space,” he lamented. “Clinical trial is one of those pivotal areas where Jamaica could benefit economically from the psilocybin psychedelic industry.”