Psychedelic compounds like ecstasy and psilocybin have emerged as life-changing treatments for mental illnesses like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depressive disorder. Earlier, governments have disregarded and demonized psychedelics as psychosis-inducing scourges. However, over the past decade, serious scientific studies have shown that psychedelic compounds have the capacity to enter mainstream medicine for the treatment of mental illnesses. It is being considered the next breakthrough in the treatment of mental illnesses.
What Are Psychedelics?
Commonly referred to as hallucinogens, psychedelics are a class of psychoactive substances that are capable of producing changes in mood, perception, and cognitive functions. Psychedelics have the power to affect all senses in the body, including a person’s thought process and emotions. Some of the most common psychedelics are LSD, Psilocybin, DMT, NBOMe, and Ayahuasca.
Psychedelics for the Treatment of Mental Illnesses
According to Kripa Krishnan, a senior analytical consultant at Informa Pharma Intelligence, “there is definitely an unmet need for a lot of psychiatric illnesses”. It can be said that there is a huge demand for drugs that are impactful for treating various mental illnesses. Research by various psychiatrists is hailing psychedelics like LSD, psilocybin, and 3-4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), along with ketamine, as the next breakthrough in the treatment of mental illnesses. Psychiatrists have discovered that such psychedelics are effective in the treatment of mental illnesses like PTSD, treatment-resistant depression, existential distress, and the like when other therapies have proved to be ineffective.
The emergence of Psychedelics as an effective treatment
The recent popularity of psychedelics in treating mental illnesses finds its roots in the 2010s. Different research groups at Los Angeles, Johns Hopkins University, University of California, Imperial College London, University of Zurich, and New York University discovered the quick and lasting effects of psychedelics. Psilocybin was used to treat a small group of people suffering from treatment-resistant depression and existential disorders. The results were a breakthrough for the typical drug therapies for these disorders. After just one or two psychedelic treatments administered under strict supervision and in conjunction with rigorous psychotherapy, patients could experience long-lasting effects.
Recognizing the Potential of Psychedelics
Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals, which in 2019 received US Food and Medicine Administration approval for Spravato for treatment-resistant depression, became the first US business to benefit from efforts to legitimate a mind-altering drug. Not only psychiatric professionals are intrigued by psychedelics’ potential. The pharmaceutical industry is paying attention as well- more than 80 businesses are focused on creating or using psychedelic substances. Investors anticipate a boom in demand for psychedelic therapy in the upcoming years.
Due to encouraging scientific and clinical findings and an increase in the number of publicly traded firms active in the psychedelic industry, investment in psychedelics has increased significantly. The use of psychedelics to treat mental illness has enormous commercial potential, which has spurred significant investment in the field during the past four years.
Companies have been attracted by larger and more robust clinical trials for psychedelics. Efforts are being made for the establishment of a legal framework for the use of psychedelics in the treatment of mental illnesses. The establishment of the infrastructure to administer psychedelic-assisted psychotherapies and the growing public support for a significant change in mental healthcare are further factors luring investors.
Challenges facing the Psychedelic Sector
Even if corporations are successful in turning psychedelics into therapeutic medications, these substances will still have to deal with the stigma that is frequently attached to them in society. Breaking the cultural stigma associated with the use of psychedelics is not an easy task. Moreover, some scientists are skeptical about whether it is possible to decouple the hallucinatory effects of psychedelics from their therapeutic effects.
Despite the increase in funding, there haven’t been many published studies of investments made in the psychedelic industry. Currently, the delivery and commercialization of psychedelics present a significant barrier to their widespread use.
A total of $60 million was invested in businesses with a focus on psychedelics in both 2018 and 2019. As psychedelic-focused enterprises and new scientific trials proliferated, the volume of investment reached roughly 10 times this amount in 2020. It won’t be long until major pharmaceutical corporations start including psychedelics in their product line.
For these excellent therapies to be adopted more quickly and to generate value for the corporations that will profit from them, legislative and regulatory changes will be essential. Finally, there is a positive public perception of psychedelic medical treatments, and as the advantages become more widely recognized, there will be a rise in demand for these therapies.