STAT: Largest psilocybin trial finds the psychedelic is effective in treating serious depression

STAT: Largest psilocybin trial finds the psychedelic is effective in treating serious depression

Eagerly awaited results of the largest-ever study of psilocybin were announced Tuesday, with Compass Pathways revealing the psychedelic drug was highly efficacious as a therapy for treatment-resistant depression. Still, the company’s stock price had dropped more than 20% as of midday, perhaps because of safety concerns among investors.

The Phase 2b study is the largest randomized, controlled, double-blind trial of psilocybin, the psychedelic compound in magic mushrooms. The company said it found that patients who were given the highest dose, 25 milligrams, had a significant decrease in depressive symptoms compared to those given 1 milligram, which is such a low dose it functions as a placebo.

Overall, 29.1% of patients in the highest-dose group were in remission three weeks after treatment, compared to 7.6% of those in the control group, and more than a quarter of the patients in the 25-milligram arm were still in remission three months after treatment.

Those who received the highest dose also experienced an average reduction on a measure of clinical depression (the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale) that was 6.6 points greater than those who took 1 milligram. Other patients were given a 10-milligram dose, but there was not a statistically significant impact for those patients compared with the 1-milligram arm.

“Everyone agrees such a result hasn’t been seen before in depression research, so we’re incredibly happy with that result,” said Lars Christian Wilde, co-founder and president of Compass.

Boris Heifets, a neuroscience researcher at Stanford who studies psychedelics and was not part of the study, agreed the results are “super promising.” The effectiveness of psilocybin at three weeks, according to Compass’ study, is roughly comparable to the effects of ketamine at one day, according to a smaller 2013 study, he added, which suggests the benefits of psilocybin hold up well over time.  “We’re still missing a lot of the detailed data,” he added, but the summary results are “pretty good news.”

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