Interview with Dr. Roger McIntyre, CEO of Champignon Brands

Interview with Dr. Roger McIntyre, CEO of Champignon Brands

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Earlier this week, Dr. Roger McIntyre was appointed as CEO of Champignon Brands.

We spoke with McIntyre about his immediate and future plans for the company…

PA: You were recently appointed as CEO at Champignon: what are your goals for the Company in the upcoming year?

RM: My goals in the next year as CEO of the company are twofold: First, it is my plan to increase the scale of ketamine delivery by increasing the number of our clinics to between five and seven. We’d like to expand to 20 additional clinics in 2021. Second, we endeavor to begin our own development of Ketamine and psilocybin. We want to take those products, which are IP commercialized, and begin phase 1 animal studies. We will do this at the various centers that we are acquiring across the United States.

PA: The Board recently announced the acquisition of a ketamine wellness center in California, following the formation of a North American clinical expansion Committee earlier this month. Can you tell us more about Champignon’s plans to expand into the US market?

RM: Champignon’s plans in the U.S. at this point are to increase the number of our clinics to between five and seven in 2020 and an additional 20 clinics in 2021. These are achievable goals. We are in late stage discussions with clinics in Houston, the New York area and Florida. The new clinics will provide at-scale opportunity for the delivery of ketamine, and also for the development of our own ketamine derivatives and psychedelics.
 

PA: Will the focus of Champignon’s North American expansion be solely on ketamine clinics?

RM: The focus of our North American expansion will be our ketamine clinics, which provide integrated rapid onset care. In addition to providing ketamine, we will also be providing behavioral services to help people return back to work who have depression and are gainfully employed. We see this as an important clinical unmet need as well as exciting business proposition.
 

PA: What about your clinic, the CRTCE: do you have any plans to offer psilocybin therapies?

RM: At the CRTCE, we plan to deliver, in a highly profitable positive cash flow way, ketamine treatment for adults with treatment resistant mood disorders and related conditions. At the CRTCE we also plan to develop our own ketamine derivatives, as well as psilocybin related products.

PA: Do you have any plans to expand access to ketamine clinics in the Canadian Prairies?

RM: We have had mature discussions with a potential partner to expand our ketamine centers across Canada. We have had strategic conversations about expanding to the west of Canada, including the Prairie Alberta and BC, as well as Quebec and the Maritime provinces. Our plan in Canada will be to expand to highly strategic areas across the country that have favorable regulatory environments and adequate population density.
 

PA: Given your experience in the realms of psychiatry and pharmacology, do you believe that psychedelic therapies represent an improvement on conventional antidepressants, namely SSRIs, or an alternative altogether?

RM: We have plenty of evidence published in the biomedical literature as well as our own clinical experience and research conducted at CRTCE indicating that the efficacy of ketamine is far superior to conventional antidepressant approaches. Ketamine is currently suggested as a treatment for adults who have treatment resistant depression. For most adults with treatment resistant depression, only about 10 to 20% respond to any type of treatment. With ketamine, we see response rates occurring in about 60 to 65%. Importantly, with conventional treatments, it takes 6 to 8 weeks to work, but with Ketamine people can see benefits, usually, within a week. The science that is currently looking at psilocybin gives us a reason to believe that psilocybin, like ketamine, may also be able to improve symptoms of people with treatment resistant depression and may also be able to improve symptoms rapidly, unlike anything else that we’ve seen before. However, we still have multiple phases of drug discovery to do. What’s different about our organization is we are the only organization in the world that does not need clinical organizations or other third parties to conduct research, as we are able to conduct our own research at scale.

PA: And, what about mood stabilizers? Are there psychedelic alternatives that may better help those with bipolar disorder, for example?

RM: At this point in time ketamine and psychedelics have not been sufficiently studied in adults who have bipolar disorder. The CRTCE has just published the largest study ever in a community center showing that ketamine is capable of improving hypomanic and depressive symptoms. We strongly believe Ketamine will be a viable alternative to some treatments, especially in treatment resistant bipolar depression and patients who continue to have ongoing mood instability. Our research paper was just published in the journal Bipolar Disorders.

PA: Given the criminalization of many psychedelics in North America, do you think stigmatization could present a barrier to those seeking psychedelic-related therapies and treatments?

RM: There is no question that there remains a very significant stigma as it relates to psychedelics. In addition, it is criminal in Canada and the United States to be in possession of these products, as they continue to be schedule one drugs according to the DEA. That being said, there is increasing acceptance of these medications. We’ve seen decriminalization in some US cities. In the U.S., the FDA has declared psilocybin a potential breakthrough drug in the treatment of depression. I think these developments give a reason to believe that psilocybin’s stigma will be reduced. I don’t expect that they will be allowed to be dispensed on the street, but if psilocybin is demonstrated to be effective at treating depression and gets FDA approval, it will be available at accredited centers to give to people for the treatment of depression and related diseases.

PA: Many of our readers are interested in gaining exposure to this nascent space via investments. What would you say to those looking to invest in this emerging sector?

RM: My advice to people who are thinking about investing in this space is that they should pay close attention to organizations that currently have a clinical infrastructure in which they see patients, a positive cash flow, that are operating a profitable business, have a scale and growth, have a track record of doing their own clinical research, and have commercialization opportunity with their own products. There is no other organization in ketamine or psychedelic research that has the clinical infrastructure, the human capital, and their own IP commercialization products like we do. Moreover, we have the largest research footprint in the world and are able to produce products that are in early phase 2. We have joined with our extensive pharmaceutical partners to bring products across the finish line in about two years rather than the conventional 6 to 8 years.

PA: How has, and/or will, COVID-19 affect your operations and growth?

RM: COVID-19 will have no impact on our growth and development in our research and development plans. We believe that COVID-19 will only amplify the political and regulatory interest in novel treatments for depression. As COVID-19 is an assault on mental health, it will increase the risk of depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress, suicide and alcohol misuse. My team has just published a paper in the World Psychiatric Association Journal projecting a massive increase in suicide as a consequence of COVID-19 if nothing is done. The time could not be any better for us to have better treatments for depression and related disorders.
 
PA: To finish on a positive note: what are you most excited about for Champignon’s future?
 
RM: What I am most excited about in this new role with this new organization is that we are going to provide solutions for people who have lifelong devastating diseases like depression. They will finally be able to return back to their lives, take care of their families, and get back to work. This is an extraordinary and exciting opportunity that we’re going be able to provide at the highest level of scale all across North America, in a way that is purposeful to people. It will also be very rewarding to our investors.
 

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