Small Pharma

Small Pharma is developing an oral rapid-acting antidepressant based on a ketamine derivative for those experiencing severe depression.

Small Pharma completed its SyndicateRoom round in January 2017, overfunding to £783,849.

The story

It is estimated that approximately 615 million people suffer from depression and/or anxiety globally, with around 40% of patients remaining clinically ill after a year of treatment. Small Pharma has identified an innovative solution that can bridge this gap in the treatment of one of the biggest causes of disability worldwide, by developing a novel rapid-acting antidepressant based on a derivative of ketamine.

Clinical trials have demonstrated a potent antidepressant effect using IV infusions of ketamine. However, delivery of medication by IV requires the presence of a healthcare professional, which significantly limits its application in depressed patients. In addition, the use of ketamine is associated with adverse side effects, and has potential for abuse. These drawbacks have prevented ketamine treatment from becoming a widely accepted therapy for depression. Small Pharma is developing a formulation aimed at overcoming this challenge and achieving rapid antidepressant activity without the side effects of ketamine.

The Small Pharma team has a wide range of experience in drug development, intellectual property and licensing. Managing Director Peter Rands is a qualified patent attorney with 11 years’ experience managing intellectual strategies, including several years at Teva, the world’s largest generic drug manufacturer. Director of Development Jim Rennie has over 30 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, including 18 years founding and managing drug development company Prova towards a successful exit in 2006.

The funding from this round will be used to formulate a dosage form suitable for clinical trials, and prepare a clinical trial application to obtain proof-of-concept clinical data to assess its potential as a rapid-acting antidepressant.

The lead investor

Lead investor Chris Torrance has invested £50,000 into Small Pharma. Chris is the Co-Founder and CEO of Phoremost, a drug discovery company with a platform for identifying novel druggable targets in oncology. Prior to Phoremost, Chris co-founded Horizon Discovery, a company which provides gene editing services to the pharmaceutical and biotech industry.

The great idea behind this is that scientists have figured out how Ketamine works. They have discovered that you can make a very small change to the molecular structure of Ketamine and keep all the good effects and none of the side effects. It can be translated very quickly, so their development time should be much quicker.

Chris Torrance

Lead investor


‘The pharmaceutical industry seems ripe for disruption and Small Pharma offers a way to achieve this. Their structure and size makes them more agile than the traditional big pharma and their innovative project selection process sets up significant growth potential.’

– Tom V, investor

‘There is a huge unmet need in the treatment of depression and the market is ever growing. I am confident that Small Pharma have the right strategy to make this project a success and change the treatment of depression for millions of people.’

– David E, investor

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