For most of us, the Covid-19 pandemic represents the biggest global health crisis we’ve ever experienced; not only has it impacted the way we consume, work and travel for the foreseeable future, but the stress and trauma induced by the virus may be enduring.
It’s times like these that underscore the importance of health and personal well-being, which explains why the explosive growth in the dietary supplements market worldwide.
These products, also called nutraceuticals, are considered alternatives to pharmaceutical products. They are derived from food sources that are purported to provide extra health benefits, in addition to the basic nutritional value found in foods.
A study by McKinsey & Company in April 2021 showed that consumers care deeply about wellness — and that their interest is growing.
In a survey of roughly 7,500 consumers in six countries, 79% of the respondents said they believe that wellness is important, and 42% consider it a top priority. In fact, consumers in every market reported a substantial increase in the prioritization of wellness over the past two to three years.
McKinsey estimates the global wellness market at more than $1.5 trillion, with annual growth of 5-10%. Consumer interest in wellness products has risen even with overall spending declining during the covid-19 crisis, the consulting firm found.
In particular, nutraceutical products saw a significant increase in demand during the pandemic.
One study published in the National Library of Medicine estimated a 44% jump ($435 million) in sales of nutraceuticals in the US during the first wave of the pandemic, relative to the same period in 2019. Prior to that, US dietary supplement sales increased by 5% ($345 million) in 2019 compared to the previous year.
In the UK, vitamin sales alone increased by 63%, and in France sales grew by approximately 40–60 % in March 2020 versus the same period the previous year, the same study found.
Looking ahead, the global nutraceuticals sector is expected to grow further as consumers look to take a more proactive approach to health to cope with the threat of Covid.
Research and Markets forecasts a CAGR of 7.8% over the next five years, reaching a total value of $441.7 billion by 2026.
Functional foods, one of the segments analyzed in its report, is also projected to grow at a 7.8% CAGR to reach $217.2 Billion by the end of the analysis period.
Rise of Psychedelics
Another health and wellness trend during the Covid era was the emergence of psychedelics as a viable treatment option for mental illness.
Psychedelics are a class of hallucinogenic drugs whose primary effect is to trigger non-ordinary states of consciousness, including specific psychological, visual and auditory changes. The health benefits of these effects have only been researched in recent years, slowly peeling away the stigma surrounding substances like psilocybin and MDMA.
Today, there are numerous publications and studies pointing to the positive effects of psychedelics on mental health; psychedelic therapy is often used for the treatment of depression, PTSD, addiction, and many more.
The Covid pandemic became a pivotal event for the psychedelics market. The threat of a deadly virus and worldwide lockdowns both placed a huge toll on people’s mental health, prompting many to seek effective ways of dealing with depression and anxiety.
Several studies around the world have indeed shown that psychedelics users have experienced less psychological stress; clinical trials by pharma companies, including one backed by German-American billionaire Peter Thiel, are also showing promise.
Growing acceptance of psychedelic drugs for treating depression, and increasing prevalence of depression and mental disorders during the pandemic, are key factors for the market’s future growth.
Analysis byData Bridge Market Research shows that the psychedelic drugs market is growing at a CAGR of 16.3% from 2020-2027, reaching $6.86 billion by the end of the forecast period.
Another report from Research And Markets upped the projection, forecasting the psychedelic market to hit $10.75 billion by 2027, from $4.75 billion in 2020, growing at a CAGR of 12.36% during 2021-2027.
New Age Pharma
In an ever-changing health and wellness industry, forward-looking companies that can swiftly adapt to market needs and consumer trends are most likely to succeed.
One such company is LOVE Pharma Inc. (CSE: LUV) (FSE: G1Q0), whose mission is to develop and bring to market innovative products that target improvements in mental and even sexual health.
LUV considers itself to be a “new age pharma” company; that is, a company committed to offering a fresh and trustworthy perspective to the world of pharmaceuticals. Its goal is to enhance both sides of the wellness coin by offering naturally occurring therapeutics backed by scientific research.
Formed in September 2021, the Vancouver-based company is planning on commercializing at least half a dozen new products in tranches. Its first two products, the Auralief hemp-infused oral strip and the Bloom arousal gel, debuted late October.
A third product about to be launched soon is a psilocybin delivery system, administered under the tongue, that LUV is developing with a US pharmaceutical company partner.
Psychedelics are widely documented to have therapeutic benefits, especially as seen during Covid, and the growing legitimacy surrounding drugs like psilocybin offers a great opportunity for pharma companies to get innovative.
Enter LOVE Pharma’s exclusive and patented biosynthetic psilocybin-infused oral strip:
Psilocybin-infused oral strip
LOVE Pharma recently filed a patent for a second muco-adhesive sublingual strip that has the same delivery platform as Auralief but contains psilocybin instead of CBD or THC. Psilocybin is the active ingredient in so-called “magic mushrooms”.
Like Auralief, the strip dissolves under the tongue within 3-5 minutes, creating a tingling sensation and a relaxation of the blood vessels. This delivery method is highly superior to ingesting psilocybin by eating magic mushrooms or sipping tea, because it cancels out many of the variables that commonly accompany the use of psychedelic drugs through other means.
For example, the effects of psilocybin on the body depend on: how much the recipient has eaten; the venue i.e., is the person sitting quietly or at a party dancing?; weight; and muscle mass. The upcoming psilocybin-infused strip smooths out individual differences and allows for a relatively consistent experience.
“We imagine mainstream psychedelics down the road say 10 years, when 30-40% of the population are taking them within North America, the UK, the EU,” says Joshua Maurice, chief operating officer at LOVE Pharma.
“The way you get to that point is by creating a consumer form factor that is acceptable and interesting but also comfortable and convenient.”
This new product is expected to significantly boost the company’s revenue stream over the next three years, adding an estimated $20 million during that period, on top of the $30 million generated from its CBD mucoadhesive strip product.
MicroDoz Therapy Acquisition
In the next step to commercialize its psilocybin-infused oral strip product, LUV announced in November the acquisition of MicroDoz Therapy Inc. in a C$1 million deal.
Based in British Columbia, Canada, MicroDoz has an exclusive partnership and license with a world-leading university to conduct a landmark study into the efficacy of psilocybin-assisted treatment of cannabis use disorder.
“LOVE’s existing portfolio is at the leading edge of innovation, and our new product development will continue to build upon that foundation, aiming to establish new customer applications as we seek to define the psychedelics and therapeutics space,” Zach Stadnyk, President and CEO, stated in a Nov. 23, 2021 news release.
“Science and efficacy are paramount to our strategy, as a result we seized the opportunity to acquire MicroDoz to expedite what will be a landmark study with a world-leading university to establish our biosynthetic psilocybin-infused oral strip as a product with the highest standard of efficacy, establishing the highest level of consumer confidence,” Stadnyk added.
Prominent research facilities in the US and the UK have been studying the efficacy of psilocybin in treating a number of debilitating conditions.
They include a recent study at Imperial College London which found that psilocybin performed as well as Lexapro, a widely used antidepressant; and a 2020 clinical trial at Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Psychedelic & Consciousness Research that suggested psilocybin with therapy is effective in treating Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).
At Johns Hopkins, research has already demonstrated the therapeutic effects of psilocybin in people dealing with addictions, stress caused by life-threatening diseases, and treatment-resistant depression.
Johns Hopkins is currently studying the effectiveness of psilocybin as a therapy for opioid addiction, Alzheimer’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome, anorexia nervosa and alcohol use in people with major depression.
“Considering the incredible advancement of psychedelics (most notably, psilocybin) in the health and wellness market, LOVE Pharma’s excitement about partnering with a US-based pharmaceutical company — developing the technology behind this muco-adhesive strip as a delivery system for psilocybin — is palpable,” stated COO Joshua Maurice back in October, when the company first announced the development of its muco-adhesive sublingual strip.
“We recognize the need for discreet, consumer-friendly applications, and with its delivery of consistent dosing, this sublingual strip hits all the marks,” Maurice added.
“New age pharma” companies like LOVE Pharma are revolutionizing the health and wellness industry by offering products that fully align with modern consumer trends.
Recognizing the heightened emphasis on mental and sexual health during the Covid crisis, the company has already had a head start with two products launched last year.
A third product is also on its way; this patent-pending psilocybin-infused oral strip looks extremely promising from the point of view that many people are already “micro-dosing” with psilocybin and realizing the many health effects of the formerly taboo “magic mushroom” ingredient.
Capable of altering space and time, causing visual distortions, euphoria and mystical experiences, research into psilocybin suggests it can also be used to treat a variety of psychological disorders, including depression, OCD, end-of-life distress and addictions.
While there are a growing number of companies in the new wellness space, all hoping to capitalize on the mainstreaming of psychedelics and CBD, what seems to set LOVE Pharma apart is their under-the-tongue strips, which is a convenient and effective way to deliver the active ingredients sought, whether that is CBD, THC or psilocybin.
Love Pharma Inc.
CSE: LUV; FSE: G1Q0
Shares Outstanding 314.9m
Market cap Cdn$11.0m
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