Psychedelic Derived Medicines and Therapies
Mental health miracle or another bad trip? When most of us think of psychedelic drugs, we think of the 1960s counterculture. We think of anti-establishment, anti-war, anti-capitalist hippies, Woodstock, tie-dye, Lucy in the Sky, peace, love and bell bottom jeans. But before psychedelics became ingrained in the counterculture, they were found in a lab.
The first wave of scientific research on psychedelics took place between 1950-65. Sandoz Pharmaceutics, what is now NovartisAG (NVS-NYSE), the third largest pharmaceutical company in the world, used to market LSD and psilocybin for psychotherapeutic purposes. Psychedelics weren’t born of the counter culture. They were killed by it. The proliferation of recreational use spurred government intervention and by 1971, psilocybin, LSD, ibogaine, mescaline, peyote,MDA and DMT were all illegal in the US. The industry won’t make that mistake again.
Research on psychedelics continued, but slowly and on the fringes of medicine. Legally procuring a Schedule I drug is not easy or cheap. Clinicians require licenses and enhanced oversight to work with these compounds. Then there’s the issue of stigma.Psychedelic researchers were for a long time outcasts from the medical community.What changed? Mental health went mainstream. Over the past decade, growing societal awareness and acceptance of these disorders as a real disease has driven into action a search for new and innovative treatments. Psychedelic research published back in the50s and 60s resurfaced, shining a light on these compounds’ curative properties. Then in October 2018, cannabis was legalized in Canada. The stigma around illicit drugs began to fade. This has helped accelerate interest and investment in the psychedelics industry,but the space ought not to be compared with cannabis. Given psychedelics’ uncertain safety profile, researchers, executives and the general public have for the most part agreed that the optimal path to market is through the clinic.