Skip to Main Content

A chain of luxury ketamine clinics called Field Trip started churning through business strategies at an increasingly rapid pace late last year. The money was running out, clinics were half full, and the company’s vice president of clinical services was under intense pressure to launch an at-home ketamine service. It was a challenging assignment, figuring out how to safely provide a sedative to depressed patients away from clinic supervision, but Elizabeth Wolfson said senior leaders gave her just a week or two, telling her to “hurry up and do it.”

In the end, the new offering lasted barely a month before executives decided it wasn’t lucrative enough and added it to the pile of scrapped initiatives. By March, Field Trip, which once had a dozen clinics in the U.S. and Canada and ambitious plans to expand to 75 by next year, started shutting down clinics, leaving just four still running. The same month, Ketamine Wellness Centers, another chain with more than a dozen clinics across the U.S., went out of business.


The closures signaled an abrupt halt to a scramble to dominate the North American market for administering ketamine, a long-time anesthetic that has gained new popularity as a treatment for serious depression.

To both company insiders and those watching from the outside, the bubble was primed to burst by business leaders who were over-eager to grow. “They weren’t really looking at buying a clinic as much as they were looking at buying a market,” said Ken Starr, a former ER doctor who said his California ketamine clinic was approached by KWC’s owner, Delic Holdings Corp., in late 2020.

Unlock this article by subscribing to STAT+ and enjoy your first 30 days free!


Create a display name to comment

This name will appear with your comment

There was an error saving your display name. Please check and try again.