Oregon legalized psilocybin for adult use in controlled environments in 2020, becoming the first state to implement such a measure. Although the drug remained Federally Illegal. Colorado recently followed suit with a broader range of psychedelics. Other states appear poised to continue this trend.
As the psychedelics If they ever want to become mainstream, they will have to be approved by regulators as a prescription drug. This provides assurance that they are safe and effective and also ensures health insurance coverage.
Research into psychedelics
MDMA (ecstasy) and psilocybin-assisted therapy for PTSD and treatment-resistant depression, respectively, are the furthest forward. Recently, the efficacy of MDMA was demonstrated in a phase 3 clinical trial. A similar study for synthetic psilocybin is currently underway.
In addition to removing regulatory hurdles, it is likely that the treatments themselves will have to change. These are now often very long. Biotech companies are already working on the next generation of psychedelics, the aim of which is to either shorten the trip time or omit the mystical, hallucinogenic part completely.
Investing in psychedelics
“Short-acting psychedelics and non-hallucinogenic psychedelics have become popular among investors in recent years,” said Josh Hardman, an analyst at Psychedelic Alpha, which tracks the sector. They remain a hot spot of late, as investment in the broader psychedelic drug industry has been declining. Hardman estimates that a dozen companies have this as their main or at least important focus. He estimates that at least 500 million in investments have been made.
There are start-ups active that aim for a shorter trip with a new molecule that is biologically similar to psilocybin. For example, the American company Gilgamesh and the Canadian listed companies Mindset Pharma and Bright Minds. Gilgamesh has a drug that, in combination with psychotherapy, is intended to treat depression and anxiety. It is currently in a phase 1 clinical trial. Like psilocybin, it targets serotonin receptors in the brain, which cause the hallucinogenic effects, but the duration of the trip is reduced to about an hour.
Shorter treatments could mean more people are interested. Moreover, more patients can be helped. Experiments are also being conducted with the administration of substances. Beckley Psytech, based in Britain, is investigating the intravenous administration of psilocybin's biologically active metabolite, psilocin, which would reduce the trip to about an hour and a half. Phase 1 clinical trials have started.
Other companies want to get rid of the hallucinogenic component completely, which may make psychedelics easier to take into the home (since there is no longer a chance of a bad trip). Startups taking a purely non-hallucinogenic approach include US-based Delix Therapeutics and Psilera, both also founded in 2019.
Source: BBC.com (EN)