Awakn Life Sciences Corp. (AWKN:NEO; AWKNF:OTCQB), the U.K.-based healthcare company that researches, develops, and commercializes therapeutics to treat addiction, just signed an out-licensing partnership deal that will see the company bring its ketamine-assisted therapy to treat alcohol use disorder (AUD) to Canada, eh.
Burlington, Ontario-based Wellbeings Pain Management and Dependency Clinic (Wellbeings) will be the first Canadian company to deliver Awakn’s off-label treatment through a licensing agreement that will see Awakn receive a yearly subscription fee, revenue sharing on a per-treatment basis, and treatment and patient data.
Wellbeings was seeking other methods of treatment once the company’s clinics started seeing an uptick in alcohol-related issues after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Technical Analyst Clive Maund rates Awakn as a Strong Buy in an Aug. 16 post.
Estimates suggest that almost 20% of Canadians are considered heavy drinkers, and alcohol accounts for roughly 8% of deaths in Canada for people under 70. The publicly funded healthcare system spends about CA$8 billion annually on alcohol-related hospital visits.
The agreement with Awakn will allow Wellbeings to treat its patients with Awakn’s proprietary ketamine-assisted therapy for the treatment of AUD as a co-morbidity for pain.
“As a result of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, the incidence of alcohol use disorder has skyrocketed and is affecting about 8 million people now in Canada alone,” Wellbeings CEO and President Peggi Shepherd DeGroote said. “The opportunity to offer people medical care that is so desperately needed for people to live their ‘best possible life’ is exciting.”
Awakn sees a great need for its treatment in the Canadian market.
“With almost 6 million people in Canada already considered heavy drinkers and with increased consumption rates since COVID, we are looking at a very serious problem that unfortunately is getting worse. The need for an effective treatment has never been greater,” Awakn CEO Anthony Tennyson told Streetwise Reports.
Awakn’s research suggests Ketamine allows neurogenesis to occur, which is when new neurons are created inside the brain. These neurons are part of a "reset" that can open paths to more healthy behaviours, which is aided by the psychotherapy component of the treatment.
In addition to AUD, Awakn is also researching the treatment’s benefits in Gambling Disorder, Compulsive Sexual Behavior Disorder, Internet Gaming Disorder, and Binge Eating Disorder.
Two Agreements in One Week
This is the second Licensing Partnership agreement that Awakn has signed in North America this week.
On Monday, the company announced an agreement with Knoxville, Tenn.-based Revitalist Lifestyle and Wellness Ltd., one of the largest publicly listed U.S.-based ketamine wellness-clinic chains.
'Overall, we believe this business line has the opportunity to generate attractive CAPEX-light, high margin (Software as a service) SaaS-like recurring revenues, which investors are currently getting for free, in our view, and is excluded in our forecasts.'
— Stifel GMP Analyst Anthony Partheniou
That deal gave Awakn a foothold in the coveted American market for alcohol and substance addiction treatment, thought to be worth more than US$30 billion annually.
Even so, patients are paying for a standard of care that to date has delivered only about a 25% abstinence rate in the first six months after treatment.
Awakn’s proprietary Ketamine treatment was developed and validated in a Phase II a/b trial. The results of the trial were published in January in the American Journal of Psychiatry. The trial delivered 86% abstinence over the six-months post-treatment versus 2% pre-trial.
Analyst Comments on Deals
Stifel GMP Analyst Anthony Partheniou published an August 15, 2022 note after the Revitalist news was announced.
"This partnership marks the first milestone achieved after the Beta launch of the licensing and partnerships program this past July, in line with expectations and demonstrates strong execution, in our view. Going forward, we expect more partnerships to be announced," Partheniou wrote.
He noted that each partnership should provide valuable insight to help optimize the business model before "the full rollout,” which is expected in 2023.
He added, "Overall, we believe this business line has the opportunity to generate attractive CAPEX-light, high margin (Software as a service) SaaS-like recurring revenues, which investors are currently getting for free, in our view, and is excluded in our forecasts."
Partheniou gave AWKN a Speculative Buy rating in a March 31, 2022 report. His 12-month target price for AWKN remains CA$8.
Two other analysts also cover Awakn: H.C. Wainright & Co. Senior Healthcare Analyst Patrick Trucchio gives AWKN a Buy rating and a CA$10 target, while New York City-based Maxim Group Senior Managing Director Jason McCarthy gives AWKN a CA$4 target and a Buy rating.
Meanwhile, Technical Analyst and Newsletter Writer Clive Maund wrote in an Aug. 16 post that Awakn shares remain at a good entry point for investors.
He wrote: "It now looks like we bought it again at a very good point yesterday after the open as it closed well up on big volume, and it is worth noting that it rose on its biggest volume since January on the U.S. market (see chart at left). As we can see, it is now within a whisker of breaking out of the downtrend in force from last November – January, and yesterday’s price/volume action suggests that it will soon do so."
Maund rates Awakn as a Strong Buy.
Awakn’s biggest shareholder is OrbiMed Advisors LLC. OrbiMed owns 8.93% or about 2.4 million shares. Other institutional shareholders include: London-based Psych Capital; New York-based JLS Fund; investment fund Palo Santo; Florida-based Iter Investments; Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands-based Negev Capital; San Juan, Puerto Rico-based Ambria Capital; and London-based Neo Kuma Ventures.
AWKN has issued almost 27 million shares, and all but about 6 million shares remain tightly held. The company trades in a 52-week range of CA$0.45 and CA$3.36.
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