For those of us who've been a little bit wobbly on the mental health front over the past couple of years, there are a bunch of options starting to crop up. The on-demand chat-based therapy options are one and at-home ketamine-assisted treatments are another. We've seen Mindbloom and Fieldtrip Health taking pole position, and recently, Wondermed announced it raised $4.6 million to join the ketamine-powered bandwagon.
The services are all minor variations on a very similar theme. You sign up and give them some money and are taken through a telemedicine protocol to figure out whether ketamine is a reasonable treatment option for you. If yes, a small parcel turns up at the door, and you're invited, with various degrees of supervision, to drop in, disassociate and face your inner demons.
I write light-heartedly about this, but ketamine treatment completely changed my life, for reasons that I'm not entirely comfortable writing about in a place where everyone can read it. Suffice it to say; I'm a little suspicious of how "easy" it is to get approved for at-home ketamine treatment -- my experience with Mindbloom reminded me of the early days of the medical marijuana process, where you'd essentially have to try pretty hard not to be approved -- but the mental health breakthroughs I experienced in the treatments are undeniable.
Wondermed told me that it is excluding 25.5% of people that go through its first eligibility flow, and claims that this is much higher than its competitors. It also points out that it is giving full refunds to the ineligible customers -- without charging a separate consultation fee.
Wonder Sciences is joining the rapidly filling market with its Wondermed product, and what it calls "the most accessible ketamine solution on the market," which, as far as I can tell, is mostly based on price. It claims it is available at an introductory rate of $249 per month. Mindbloom is slightly more expensive ($1,000 or so for the first three months, which works out to around $333 per month. For returning customers, Mindbloom costs around $230 per month) and Field Trip clocks in at $1,250 for a comparable at-home package (around $410 per month).
On the one hand, I'm whole-heartedly excited that these treatments are becoming more available, and I'm curious whether this is the beginning of a race to the bottom from a pricing point of view, with the inevitable FDA/DEA intervention that is bound to follow.
Whereas ketamine clinics often cost upward of $1,500 per treatment and is delivered intramuscularly or intravenously (i.e., an injection in your muscles or via a drip straight into your bloodstream), at-home Ketamine is usually done by way of a pressed powder capsule that users hold in their mouth for a period of time to let it be absorbed sublingually (under the tongue).
Recent clinical studies prove ketamine’s efficacy as a fast-acting therapeutic treatment option for anxiety and depression, especially compared to more traditional treatment methods. Originally used as an analgesic, ketamine enhances neuroplasticity -- i.e., the brain's ability to adapt and be open to change. By stimulating the growth of new neural pathways, ketamine disrupts thought loops that may contribute to anxiety. A ketamine treatment typically takes around an hour, with a 2-3 hour recuperation period after and has minimal side effects in comparison to traditional anti-anxiety pharmaceuticals.
“While the medical community has largely agreed that ketamine is a successful treatment option for those struggling with anxiety and mental health issues, available treatments to date have been limited and often require a large investment of time and financial resources,” said Ryan Magnussen, founder and CEO of Wonder Sciences. “Wondermed is the most accessible ketamine-assisted protocol available. We’re honored to play a role in impacting countless lives by helping people unlock their self-healing potential with a safe, scientifically-proven protocol.”
Wondermed is currently accepting patients in California, New York, Florida and Texas and will be expanding into Illinois, Arizona and Connecticut later this quarter. The company told me it has plans to be available in 19 states by the end of the year.
The company just announced it raised $4.6 million in total to date, largely from angel investors, on its way to raising additional funds from angels and institutional investors.