VA clinical trials exploring psychedelics to treat PTSD in "watershed moment"
The Department of Veterans Affairs has begun offering psychedelic substances to patients in a series of clinical trials that may shed light on the therapeutic value of such drugs, the New York Times reports.
Why it matters: MDMA, psilocybin and LSD — combined with psychotherapy — have been touted as a potentially revolutionary tool in treating addiction and other mental health conditions, Axios' Alison Snyder reports.
Driving the news: Government clinicians seeking to explore such therapies to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse and other conditions commonly experience by veterans have at least five trials currently underway or in the works, per the Times.
- The first trial began at a Veterans Affairs clinic in California last summer, where researchers received approval from the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Food and Drug Administration.
- Another trial began at a clinic in New York in January and three additional trials at clinics in Portland and San Diego are set to begin later this year.
The big picture: The potential benefits of psilocybin and LSD were studied in the 1950s and 1960s, but research was largely paused in the 1970s for a number of reasons, including concerns about recreational use of the drugs that led to them being classified as Schedule I compounds, Snyder notes.
- The FDA in 2017 classified MDMA and psilocybin as “breakthrough therapies," jumpstarting research on the substances.
What they're saying: "This is a watershed moment," Dr. Rachel Yehuda, the director of mental health at the James J. Peters Veterans Affairs Medical Center in the Bronx told the Times.
- "This is a time for a lot of hope."
Go deeper... The science of psychedelic therapy breaks on through