August 8, 2020
On Thursday, July 30th, 2020, we hosted a video AMA on the Osmind community with Andrew Penn, UCSF researcher and MAPS Phase III MDMA-assisted psychotherapy therapist. You can find the full video here. Here is a summary of some of the key questions and answers from the AMA:
One of the things you have to keep in mind with this different modality is that this is way more than the medicine. Something that often happens is that the medicine will be put in the center. Not to say that medicine is not important but therapy should be in the front and the medicine should be catalyzing the therapeutic process.
So who is going to be able to give this therapy?
Historically, the role of the FDA has been to ensure that the drugs approved by their agency for clinical use are safe and effective. The FDA is good at regulating drugs but not good at regulating therapy, it’s a little uncharted for them. There are a lot of conversations about who should be allowed to be in the room during MDMA-assisted psychotherapy and the credentials of what those people should be, whether that be an MD, nurse, psychotherapist, etc.
We don’t know who the FDA will deem to be fit to provide this sort of therapy and it is yet to be determined. Ultimately, it is not entirely in our (the providers’) hands to decide.
It depends on the drug. With ketamine and higher doses, it’s more difficult to talk and it does tend to detach people from their body. Out of ketamine, MDMA, and psilocybin, MDMA is more conducive to conversation and has a prosocial profile. People tend to be more talkative and socially engaged with MDMA.
With that said, I’ve also seen people do deep inner work in that paradigm so it does vary from person to person.
Psychotherapy and grief is something I’ve had much interest in. We live in a culture that is very phobic of grief, the average job has a three-day funeral bereavement leave. We have this idea that grief should be very time-limited, but the reality is often much different. Francis Weller is a good colleague of mine who talks beautifully about grief and does research on the stages of grief. He discusses how there are many different strata of grief. For example, there is the obvious grief for things we care about and there is the grief for things we wanted to have but never had. We carry grief for the state of the world, especially now. We employ many different emotional strategies to avoid having to engage with grief:
Grief should be a communal experience, and what’s tragic about COVID is that we can’t have funerals in the way that we normally would. We kind of have to shake off our grief experience.
The best way to find any information on clinical trials is to go to https://clinicaltrials.gov/, which is a National Institute of Health (NIH) sponsored website. Any study starting out needs to register through this site. It’s very user-friendly with a google type interface where you can search for a certain drug or condition and find clinical trials related to what you’re looking for!
Andrew also had a question for the Osmind community. If you’ve ever had a psychedelic-assisted therapy session, we’d love for you to share your experience. Make sure to stay tuned in on the community platform for the next AMA!
Osmind’s mission is to maximize patient access to innovative mental health treatments where other therapies have failed. We do that by building software to improve the patient experience, empower providers to deliver better care, and help life sciences organizations get psychedelic medicine and other groundbreaking therapies onto the medical market.
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