Clinic facilities

Pasithea opens ketamine clinic in Beverly Hills

On the stretch of Sunset Boulevard where the line between West Hollywood and Beverly Hills blurs, inside a low-rise eight-story medical building shrouded in a 60-foot poster of the pixel-perfect naked body J.Lo, the near future clinical ketamine gears up for the clinically depressed.

Pasitheus is the latest ketamine hub to grace Los Angeles. Inside their state-of-the-art 1,235 square foot facility, decorated with light oak wood panels, the Scandinavian-themed architecture that proliferates throughout Los Angeles suggests organic possibilities.

“Tall doors and large windows are hardwired into your brain to give you bigger thinking,” says Antonio Ocana, clinical director of Pasithea’s Los Angeles office.

The tiny waiting room window — a typical feature of other offices in Sunset Medical Tower, I’m told — has been ditched in favor of cascading frosted glass.

“It’s to bring in more natural light,” explains Daniela Amador, the clinic’s young interior designer. And the removal of sharp angles in the waiting room in favor of curves, she says, “was a representation of the cycle of life”.

In this sense, the Pasithea Clinic is less like a psychiatric practice where intravenous dissociative anesthetics are administered than a desert sanctuary.

“There are two types of [ketamine] clinics or two types of environments so to speak,” explains Manuel Hoyer, Vice President of Growth at Pasithea. “One is a very hippie family store that to some extent seems very aligned with the movement around psychedelics, which isn’t very believable for people looking for something medically backed. And on the other side of the spectrum, you have more dentist office type spaces that don’t feel like it’s an innovative treatment.

This distinction is important given that Pasithea is not the first ketamine clinic to open in Los Angeles. In fact, it’s not even the fifteenth. Since 2014, when anesthesiologist Steven Mandel, who co-founded Ketamine Clinics Los Angeles, began using ketamine off-label to treat depression and other mental health disorders, Los Angeles has seen an increase of over 1,000% of the number of clinics, based on the current number of ketamine clinics listed on Yelp. The current market size of this industry is estimated at $900 million. It also helps that in 2019 the FDA approved a version of ketamine called esketamine for the treatment of mental health. Under the brand name Spravato, the antidepressant is delivered by nasal spray.

At Pasithea, the price per session for IV ketamine treatment is $700.

“Spravato will also be offered starting next month,” says Hoyer. They recommend starting with six IV ketamine sessions that typically last between one and three weeks. Other ketamine clinics in Los Angeles have a similar protocol but their price varies between $400 and $700 by infusion. That is, Pasithea, if any, is at the higher end of the spectrum.

But such is the price of healing inside a facility that looks less like a doctor’s office and more like an imaginary cream-colored dream. Similar in sensibility, as Hoyer puts it, to “Santa Monica’s Proper Hotel”, with its sandy palette that hints at a beach setting.

In recent years or, at least since 2020, much of the reporting on ketamine clinics has inadvertently drawn attention to the “vibe” of the facilities. Last year, while reporting on Field Trip, a ketamine clinic in Santa Monica that opened in September 2020, Keerthi Vedantam of dot LA noted that “the clinic is outfitted with mid-century furniture, of plush throw pillows and shaggy rugs, almost like an Architectural Digest broadcast came to life.

In its 2020 article on the widespread use of ketamine therapy, the New Yorker’s Emilie Witt wrote that the “decorative touches” of Field Trip’s New York office “feel spa-like: white carpets, fiddle-leaf fig trees, electric candles inside glass lanterns”. Adding that, “The aesthetic seems based on the assumption that when a company hopes to adopt a once-taboo practice, a West Elm interior can go a long way.”

Additionally, Field Trip has been described as “not your average doctor’s office”. The waiting room, writes Sara Spruch-Feiner for coveter“looks more like your fanciest friend’s living room, with lots of natural light, a tactile moss wall, and aesthetically pleasing furniture.”

All of this is a far cry from the ketamine clinics of yore, which a redditor described as being “on the back of a [P]Polish pharmacy next to a kebab shop”, or “full of incense and quite psychedelic”.

According to Ocana, to be eligible for ketamine therapy at the contemporary, lush Pasithea facility, a patient must have tried at least two different SSRIs before. Which is important given that intravenously administered ketamine is not currently FDA-approved for any psychiatric indication.

“There are a number of FDA-approved medications and evidence-based treatments for depression, including medications, TMS [transcranial magnetic stimulation]TCE [electroconvulsive therapy] and evidence-based psychotherapy,” says Charles Nemeroff, chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin. “Ketamine’s place in the treatment algorithm is unclear at this time. I see many patients with treatment-resistant depression who are immediately referred to a ketamine clinic before other well-established treatments have taken hold. been tried.

To that end, says Nemeroff, only a small minority of the clinics you refer to adhere to these recommendations.

“Unfortunately, if you have the funds to pay for treatment, you can easily receive it,” he adds.

This is exactly the kind of clientele that Pasithea hopes to attract with its palatial motif. According to VP of Operations Chirstian Pedrini, their primary demographic is “people between the ages of 25 and 45, who are successful, whether corporate or executive, probably in technology and working in the entertainment industry, mostly people working in very stressful environments”. Adding that for these types of people, “the thing you always have to consider with these psychedelic treatments is that the setting is really important.” Hence the floor-to-ceiling wall installation in the waiting room, backlit and adorned with white vases and dried palm spears on the beach. Or the white leather phlebotomy chairs. Or the vases and murals scattered throughout the establishment, which look like they were chosen from a CB2 catalog.

This is the inevitable result of the widespread use of ketamine and support for venture capital. In fact, these days you don’t even have to go for ketamine therapy to find it. By rolling stone‘s recent report on telemedicine company Peak, they are pushing ketamine therapy via TikTok. Pasithea, at least, which offers ketamine therapy at home, requires a medical professional to administer the IV.

Ultimately, says Amador, his goal when designing the Pasithea Clinic was to redefine what a doctor’s office could be – to tear down that feeling that most people get when they arrive in the waiting area usually aseptic filled with old gossip rags.

“We want the opposite,” she says. “We want the patient to feel at home.

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