Who is going to benefit from psychedelic therapy?

Psychedelic therapy is going mainstream – it won’t be long before these therapies are rolled out in clinics across the globe once the regulations around these substances are changed.

Many believe that psychedelic therapy is the solution to the global mental health crisis. While it is hard to deny these medicines’ positive impact for many, will psychedelic therapy be accessible for those who need it most?

News headlines, company websites, and more would lead you to believe that psychedelics are a silver bullet aimed at global mental health.

In reality, it’s going to take a lot of work for psychedelics to become widely accessible – let’s not forget the need to ensure the indigenous communities who have stewarded psychedelic plant medicine get the recognition they deserve.

Issues of accessibility

At the simplest level, psychedelic therapy doesn’t come cheap. The combination of factors such as laws and regulations, the cost of therapy and the duration of a psychedelic experience make psychedelic therapy an unaffordable treatment option for many.

It’s easy to ignore the costs when the results of clinical trials have been overwhelmingly positive. The Global Initiative for Psychedelic Science Economics (GIPSE) is a much-needed network of health economists forecasting the cost-effectiveness of psychedelic therapies.

Using data from the recent MAPS Phase III trial with MDMA – where therapy costs $11,537 per patient – modelling from GIPSE found MDMA therapy generates discounted net health care savings of $132.9 million over 30 years, compared to the standard of care for 1,000 patients.

With time, the regulations will change, and more trained therapists may help drive the prices down. Whether or not psychedelic therapy will be covered by health insurance is another question that needs to be answered.

We can’t forget where psychedelic plant medicine comes from 

Indigenous communities have used psychedelic medicine for thousands of years – now, the psychedelic industry risks alienating them from their practices.

It’s only fair that these communities benefit from the revival of psychedelic science and get the recognition and restitution they deserve – something many seem to have forgotten as they rush to patent yet another form of DMT.

Initiatives like Woven Sciences‘ El Puente show that it is possible to work with these communities and create viable business models with reciprocity at their core.

Ultimately, how do we safeguard inclusive, equitable access and respect the wisdom the industry is built upon?

If you’re looking for answers to questions like this from experts in the field, then be sure to join us for ICPR 2022 Psychedelic Science, Ethics & Business, taking place this September in The Netherlands.

Get your tickets here.

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