Psychedelic-focused venture studio Beckley Waves has acquired digital ketamine-assisted therapy (KAT) provider Nue Life.
Beckley Waves seeks to improve access to well-being-enhancing medicines and tools in an industry that is dominated by “antiquated” approaches to mental health, according to Daniel Love, co-founder and partner at Beckley Waves and interim CEO of Nue Life.
“At the end of the day, ketamine-assisted therapy is really the only [psychedelic] that’s widely accessible and legal, at least at a federal level,” Love told Behavioral Health Business. “So if we want to help people now, this is what’s possible, and we think is quite compelling.”
Miami, Florida-based Nue Life leverages sublingual ketamine doses in combination with an app and virtual after-care programs to treat patients across 23 states. Rapid-dissolve ketamine tablets have been demonstrated to be a safe and effective therapy for treatment-resistant depression and anxiety.
Nue Life, which has treated over 10,000 patients, recently pivoted from an exclusively direct-to-consumer approach to a diversified strategy by adding B2B offerings through its new partnership program Nue Network.
The company sets itself apart from other KAT providers, in part, through its more cost-effective digital model.
A full course of KAT delivered through typical in-person clinics will cost patients between $4,500 to $6,000, Love said, while Nue Life’s in-home offerings cost between $1,000 and $1,400.
Achieving reimbursement for KAT would drastically improve access to the therapy. Among promising efforts to do so is KAT provider Enthea. The company partners with employers to provide employees access to KAT, which Love says is “encouraging.”
Nue Life believes its measurement-based platform will ease potential conversations with payers about partnerships.
“One of the interesting things about Nue Life is that we can actually track outcomes,” Love said. “There’s a platform and an app that goes with it. We can actually present and show, ‘Here is where your population was before,’ and ‘Here is where they are now.’ That’s how you can begin to get payers on board so they’re actually saying, ‘Hey, this is actually much more cost effective and a better outcome for my people.’”
Nue Life’s app offers group integration work and one-on-one coaching as well as meditation and contemplative practices.
The app is one way the company plans to build continued relationships with its patients, even after completion of doses. Maintaining these relationships is the company’s greatest opportunity for growth, Love said.
Nue Life will focus on this continuum of care, as well as ensuring high safety and compliance standards, before looking to grow.
“Generally our philosophy is slower and sustainable growth,” Love said. “I would think that we want to be Patagonia, not H&M. … We will grow, but we have to first slow down before we start to speed up again.”
The thoughtful approach to Nue Life’s growth mirrors Beckley Wave’s M&A plans.
“The goal is not to grow just for growth’s end, it’s to grow to create impact,” Love said. “It’s this calculus of given our limited dollars, what can we do that will maximize our impact per dollar. If there are opportunities that make a lot of sense and we think we can serve more people, and coming back to the question of who are our core beneficiaries and how do we serve them, I think we would certainly do it.”
The biggest hurdle to the companies’ plans for slow, sustainable growth is public perception.
“When I moved into the psychedelic field three years ago, I had old mentors and bosses telling me I was committing career suicide,” Love said. “I think we’ve passed to a certain extent into the mainstream consciousness, but I still think there’s a lot of stigma when it comes to mental health, drugs and ketamine.”