One of the largest operators of ketamine clinics in the country abruptly closed its facilities this week, leaving patients in the dark and out of treatment for depression and other chronic conditions.
Ketamine Wellness Centers spanning nine states were shuttered, leaving laid-off employees and patients with more questions than answers. Interest in ketamine to treat depression and other conditions has grown in recent years. A short-lived anesthetic turned party drug, it’s now being studied for its benefits to those with psychiatric disorders that don’t respond to other treatments. And there is a push by some to expand its use to treat other conditions, such as substance use disorders.
The centers are run by Delic Corp., a subsidiary of the publicly held Delic Holdings Corp. Delic calls itself the “leading psychedelic wellness platform” in the U.S., and has hinged its growth on the potential legalization of MDMA and psilocybin treatments. The company’s CEO since January 2021 is Matt Stang, the former chief revenue officer of High Times magazine, which pushed for the legalization of cannabis.
Delic Holdings also runs Delic Labs out of Vancouver, Canada, and in 2021 acquired Ketamine Wellness Centers, which ran clinics in states such as Arizona and California. Delic is characterized as a media, e-commerce, events, and clinic company. The company’s website touted itself as running the “largest profitable network of clinics” in the country.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the Ketamine Wellness Centers website displayed a banner on the homepage: “Delic announces suspension of Ketamine Wellness Centers Operations,” with an email and phone number for patients to obtain their medical records. No other information was immediately available about the closure of the 12-year-old company.
STAT reached out to the communications director for Delic Corp. and Ketamine Wellness Centers. An automatic reply email said, “Today is my last day” with the companies. It is unclear when the automatic reply message was set. Messages to other Ketamine Wellness Centers and Delic employees went unanswered.
Suspicion is swirling around the closures, and the impact it could have on patients who depended on Ketamine Wellness Centers for specialized treatments, such as ketamine infusions and IV drips of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) often given at med spas. Some of the Delic clinics also offered Spravato, an Food and Drug Administration-approved version of ketamine that comes in a nasal spray, for adults with treatment-resistant depression, major depressive disorder, or suicidal thoughts or actions. Ketamine was approved by the FDA as an anesthetic and is used off-label otherwise. At least a dozen telehealth companies have begun prescribing ketamine online, some catching heat for the practice.
Given growing interest in psychedelic medicine, the Ketamine Wellness Centers’ sudden closure was puzzling.
In a January blog post, Delic Holdings CEO and board member Kevin Nicholson described growth in the ketamine clinic business as being not “as expansive as we had planned” in 2022. The treatment centers, which offered a variety of therapeutics for psychiatric conditions ranging from depression to PTSD and chronic pain, administered 12,000 infusions, about a 23% jump from the previous year. The clinics also saw an increase in “insurance-based” treatment, with nearly a third of patients falling in that category. Health insurers have so far not covered psychedelic-assisted interventions, but may cover drugs like Spravato when they are deemed “medically necessary.”
In the post, Nicholson expressed optimism about having the clinics provide MDMA-assisted therapy down the road, should such treatment be approved by the FDA. “Delic / Ketamine Wellness Centers is perfectly positioned with our clinic size, treatment hours, in-room service, and insurance coverage to be one of the first companies to be able to offer this therapy to the community,” the post said.
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