With cannabis we are already experiencing the migration from a recreational drug to medication, and the next experience will be with psychedelic drugs.
But what are these drugs?
The most known drugs are: LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), Psilocybin (extracted from hallucinogenic mushrooms), DMT/Ayahuasca (dimethyltryptamine, present in various plants), Mescaline (extracted from some types of cacti), MDMA (methylenedioxymethamphetamine, synthetic drug known as Ecstasy or Molly), Ketamine or Ketamine (synthetic medication for use in anesthesia), Ibogaine (extracted from a plant).
We have a history of religious or recreational use of these drugs, but today there are studies that point to several therapeutic uses, such as: pain, depression, chemical dependency, anxiety, some types of headache, among others; the most established use is in resistant depression, panic syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The population's mental health condition is very relevant, since it has a substantial effect on all areas of life, such as: academic performance, professional performance, relationships with family and friends, and participation in the community.
About 20% of children and adolescents around the world have a mental health problem, with suicide being the second leading cause of death in the 15 to 29 age group. Approximately one in five people in post-conflict settings have a mental health problem.
The World Health Organization estimates that depression and anxiety cost the global economy $1 trillion a year, affecting about 330 million people, and depression is the most disabling condition. Therefore, an effective innovation in this area would be very welcome.
A new therapy
Today we have a large therapeutic arsenal, especially for the treatment of depression and anxiety. According to Medgadget, the global market for antidepressant drugs is valued at $13.69 billion in 2018, and is expected to reach $15.88 billion in 2025, with a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 2.15% during the period time course.
The point is that many patients do not respond to current treatments satisfactorily, and for these patients, psychedelic drugs can bring a new possibility of improvement.
Despite being a therapy that is still questioned in several countries, psychedelic drugs already have a considerable global market; Medgadget estimates values above $4.23 billion in 2019 and forecasts a 13.6% CAGR growth from 2020 to 2030.
The optimistic forecast is supported by the evolution of research in large corporations and the proliferation of startups, which seek to standardize the cultivation and/or development of synthetic forms.
We realized that these products are increasingly beginning to gain space in the therapeutic area, especially in psychiatry. This use is supported by clinical studies conducted at reference centers such as the universities of California and Johns Hopkins in the United States, Maastricht in the Netherlands, and in Brazil at the Federal Universities of Rio Grande do Norte and Rio de Janeiro, Instituto D' Or for Research and Teaching, and Unicamp.
The FDA has already approved the first psychedelic drug for refractory depression, but we know that many studies still need to be done, and several regulatory agencies need to adapt and be able to review the approval of the drugs to be made available to patients. Let’s follow the next steps...