Magic mushrooms are no longer just for hippies, trip freaks, and stoner socialites looking for a trap door into untapped dimensions. This psychedelic drug could be well on its way to being made available in a pharmacy near you.
This week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced it had granted “Breakthrough Therapy” designation to COMPASS Pathways for its work in treating depressed patients with psilocybin, the active ingredient in hallucinogenic mushrooms.
This decision puts the drug on the fast track for additional studies that could eventually make prescription psychedelics a thing.
This is a significant development considering the U.S. government still refuses to give much credit to marijuana for its ability to treat various medical conditions.
The best the FDA has been willing to do for the cannabis plant is offer GW Pharmaceuticals the green light for its CBD-based epilepsy drug that is set to hit pharmacy shelves later this year.
However, for those folks who have been immersed in psychedelics studies for the past few decades, the idea that psilocybin could soon be recognized for its ability to help pull mental health patients out of dark times is about as momentous as it comes.
“This is great news for patients. We are excited to be taking this work forward with our clinical trial on psilocybin therapy for treatment-resistant depression,” George Goldsmith, the executive chairman of COMPASS, said in a statement.
“The FDA will be working closely with us to expedite the development process and increase the chances of getting this treatment to people suffering with depression as quickly as possible.”
Depression is the most prominent mental health disorder in the United States. It is responsible for 99 percent of mental illnesses and affects more than 18 million adults each year, according to the Hope for Depression Research Foundation.
Sadly, people tormented by this sometimes debilitating condition are more prone to suicide. Without getting too heavy here, let’s just say that 41,000 people take their own lives each year as a result of living with undiagnosed or untreatable depression. That means someone turns to this last resort every 13 minutes.
To put this into perspective, murder is not as prevalent. Some of the latest data shows the nation logs around 16,000 homicides annually.
The approval of a psilocybin-based medicine could be the solution to helping people with depression get a grip and move on to pursue healthy, productive lives. That’s not us feeding you a line of bullshit, either (which, interestingly enough, is where magic mushrooms are found in nature).
The FDA admits this psychedelic drug has shown “preliminary clinical evidence” that it is effective in treating this disordered beyond any medication available on the market today. This means all of those depressed people struggling through the nasty side effects of the likes of Zoloft, Lexapro, and Prozac may have the opportunity to someday to embrace a natural remedy.
“FDA Breakthrough status is a big deal,” Matthew Johnson, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University, told Inverse.
“It implies that the FDA recognizes the treatment is potentially one with a large impact on a largely under-treated condition. It also means that the FDA works more closely with the sponsor given the potential public health benefit, and goes beyond the typical ‘Just the facts, ma’am’ relationship they typically have with a pharmaceutical sponsor.”
But don’t let the term “fast-track” fool you. It could still be several years before COMPASS receives FDA-approval for its psilocybin medication. Even if it does, there is a chance it will be distributed exclusively through psychiatrists and not through major pharmacy chains.
So, it might not be easy for the average person experiencing seasonal depression to coax his or her doctor into writing a scrip for trip therapy. It’s not impossible, but experts say it is unlikely the drug will be handled in this manner.
Then again, there is always the old-fashioned way – picking mind-altering fungi out of cow manure. It’s just a matter of how depressed a person has to be to go digging through the farmyard shitter.