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Senators Cory Booker And Brian Schatz Call On Federal Agencies To Research Psychedelics

Benzinga logo Benzinga 5/12/2022 Fermin Orgambide
© Provided by Benzinga Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) sent a letter to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the FDA whom they called on to study the therapeutic potential of psychedelics.

According to the senators, the U.S. has already undertaken a significant amount of research on psychedelics, citing that between 1960 and 1965, studies on LSD and other psychedelics generated over 1,000 scientific papers. But since then, federal prohibition has stymied progress in our understanding of the substances.

For that reason, and noting that the NIH “has begun to show greater interest in psychedelic research,” Schatz and Booker call on the federal agencies to further investigate psychedelic compounds, as well as provide details on current NIH fundings of psychedelic research.

Schatz also wrote a letter in 2019 to the NIH and FDA, which prompted a response from the agencies. They acknowledged that some psychedelic substances show therapeutic promise as well as new “mechanisms of illness and possible interventions, ultimately leading to novel treatments with fewer side effects and lower abuse potential.”

Ongoing trials for psychedelics and their potential for treating mental health disorders, such as PTSD or major depressive disorder, the involvement of the NIH in a “workshop exploring the field of psychedelics as a potential therapeutic” encouraged the senators to ask for further research. 

Five central points to the letter include:

The NIH is required to provide details on current NIH funding of psychedelic research, including a breakout by institute, and a breakout by basic versus clinical research. The NIH is asked to provide information regarding conducted reviews of the scientific studies on psychedelics funded by NIMH and other federal entities in the period from 1950 to 1965, if there were any. Schatz and Booker ask what are the gaps in current psychedelic research that need to be addressed to further our understanding of psychedelics. They also ask what is the current status of collaboration between FDA, NIH, NIH-funded researchers and their academic institutions, and the private sector on research into psychedelics. Finally, there is the question of defining regulatory barriers to research on psychedelics and additional regulatory barriers to studying naturally occurring psychedelics, such as psilocybin.

Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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