A Ketamine Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder Comes to the U.S.

Awakn introduces Ketamine therapy for alcohol use disorder to the U.S.

Plus: Startups partner to reduce ER visits for OUD, and more industry news

By Mark Mravic

New & Next: Treatment

A Major Psychedelics Company Enters the U.S. Market

U.K.-based Awakn Life Sciences, a prominent international player in the research, development and use of psychedelics for addiction and other mental health disorders, has entered the U.S. market, signing a licensing agreement with Revitalist Lifestyle and Wellness. The deal allows Knoxville, Tenn.-based Revitalist, a treatment chain that offers ketamine-assisted therapy for mental health and pain conditions, to incorporate Awakn’s proprietary ketamine-plus-psychological therapy protocol for alcohol use disorder (AUD). In addition, Awakn on Thursday also announced a partnership agreement in Canada, with Ontario-based Wellbeings Pain Management and Dependency Clinic.

Kathryn Walker

Awakn’s protocol showed significant effectiveness for treating patients with severe AUD in a Phase II clinical trial published in January 2022, compared to a placebo and the current standard of care. The company will receive a licensing fee and share treatment revenues with Revitalist, which operates 10 clinics across the South and Midwest.

Though ketamine is not approved for AUD treatment in the U.S., a modified version, Spravato, got the green light from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for depression; as Bloomberg reports, that move, plus a 2017 consensus statement from the American Psychiatric Association on ketamine, has given providers what they feel is sufficient basis for off-label use of the therapy for other mental health conditions.

“The current standard of care for AUD—and most addiction disorders—is insufficient, leaving many people, as well as their loved ones, suffering,” Revitalist CEO Kathryn Walker said in a release. “Now, for the first time in the United States, these individuals are able to access this promising treatment to help them remain in remission of their addictive behaviors. We look forward to incorporating Awakn’s ketamine-assisted therapy protocols into our offering across our clinical properties.”

New & Next: Tech

Bicycle Health and Tele911 Team Up on OUD Care

Bicycle Health, a leading digital provider of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder (OUD), and Tele911, which works with local fire departments and EMS services to reduce unnecessary ambulance transports of medically stable patients to hospital ERs, have partnered to enhance access to OUD care for people in emergency situations. Through the collaboration, paramedics in the Tele911 program will stabilize patients who are experiencing health crises stemming from opioid use, then connect them to a Tele911 emergency physician, who will determine an appropriate course of care. A licensed social worker from Tele911 will connect the patient with Bicycle Health for continued support and care.

“Many patients who call 911 can safely be treated in place, avoiding costly and medically unnecessary ambulance transports to crowded ERs,” said Marc Eckstein, MD, MPH, the CEO and co-founder of Tele911. “This innovative partnership with Bicycle Health will allow us to take that in-home treatment to the next level by allowing us to connect these stable, vulnerable patients to immediate care tailored to their specific needs, ultimately transforming the EMS system and improving OUD care.”

New & Next: Events

A Retreat Where Musicians Can Unplug

It’s no secret that people in the music industry, with their non-traditional lifestyles and work hours and unique stresses, are at risk for substance misuse and other mental health conditions. Now the nonprofit Onsite Foundation is teaming with MusiCares, which provides addiction care resources to members of the music industry, for a three-day “healing retreat.” The workshop, called “Unplugged,” is intended to give industry professionals the chance “to step away from all the noise and distractions and into a space where participants can freely explore who they are, what got them here, and who they truly want to be as a creative moving forward.” The retreat will take place Oct. 6–9 at Onsite’s campus in Cumberland Furnace, Tenn., and is open to current and former musicians, singer/songwriters, engineers, stagehands, managers, tour bus drivers, A&R, agents, makeup artists, venue managers, live crews and others in the music profession. For more information and to apply for a scholarship to participate, go here.

New & Next: Conferences

ASAM’s State-of-the-Art Course in Addiction Medicine

Early bird registration has been extended until Aug. 25 for the annual educational conference of the American Society for Addiction Medicine (ASAM), which will take place Sept. 29–Oct. 1 in Washington, D.C. The course is designed for addiction medicine specialists and healthcare professionals, as well as scientists, advocates, public health officials and others seeking advanced-level knowledge about scientific advances and emerging evidence in addiction medicine. The course can earn up to 18 CE credits. Participants who sign up by the early-bird deadline will save up to $200. To register, go here.

Top photo: Awakn