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Post: Psychedelic therapy data ‘speaks for itself,’ VA official says

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Psychedelic therapy data ‘speaks for itself,’ VA official says
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VA Under Sec. Shereef Elnahal (right) speaks with Jason Pyle, executive director of Healing Breakthrough. (Healing Breakthrough) The Department of Veterans Affairs ’ top health official on Friday said the agency is prepared to spend “at least in the millions” of dollars on clinical trials of psychedelic therapies, pending a U.S. Food and Drug Administration decision on midomafetamine, or MDMA, assisted treatments expected later this year.

VA Under Secretary Shereef Elnahal ’s comments were delivered to conference attendees during a conversation with Jason Pyle, executive director of Healing Breakthrough , an organization working to treat veteran PTSD through MDMA-assisted therapy.

Elnahal discussed how the VA will play a pivotal role in answering more specific questions surrounding psychedelic therapies, such as the extent of treatment necessary to have an impact on veterans.

Further researching just how intensive these therapies have to be will better prepare the VA to respond to the surge in demand they expect following potential approval by the FDA, Elnahal said.

“We can start to answer some of the questions that the broader clinical and scientific community has,” Elnahal said. “Do you actually need eight hours every three sessions for an MDMA therapy? Do you actually need two clinicians per patient for that duration?

“The moment the FDA approves MDMA … we’re going to see demand for this go through the roof, especially among the veteran population.”

Elnahal also noted the VA would like to study the possibility and effectiveness of group therapy sessions.

Preparations also include understanding what a treatment must entail to be the most medically — and economically — effective.

On the table, too, is expanding to other therapies, such as ibogaine and psilocybin, he added.“This initial request for proposals is supposed to be the spark that fuels even more research,” Elnahal said. “Chances are that — because of the similar mechanisms of action, similar effect areas in the brain — we can see unique benefits of some of these other compounds. We’re proving the case that the federal government is no longer afraid to engage in this.”A second phase III trial by Lykos Therapeutics, formerly the MAPS Public Benefit Corporation , […]

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