Expert: Pharmacists Can Play a Significant Role in Establishing Best Clinical Practices for Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy

Kelan Thomas, PharmD, MS, associate professor of clinical sciences at Touro University California College of Pharmacy, discusses some best clinical practices for psychedelic-assisted therapy in terms of assessing pharmacological profile.

Pharmacy Times interviewed Kelan Thomas, PharmD, MS, associate professor of clinical sciences at Touro University California College of Pharmacy, on his recent presentations at Insight 2021 and the virtual Sana Symposium on psychedelic adverse effects and drug-drug interactions.

Alana Hippensteele: What are some best clinical practices for psychedelic-assisted therapy in terms of assessing pharmacological profile?

Kelan Thomas: It's interesting because the way that the studies are done, obviously, most people are stopped on their other psych meds because we have to understand the effects of the specific drug in the trial. So, this is an interesting role for pharmacists to really become the specialist in these best clinical practices around things like tapering off of antidepressants. A lot of these clinicians that are thinking about how we're going to do this are thinking we are probably going to have to taper in advance, and how they’re figuring out how to best navigate that.

I think pharmacists are uniquely positioned to be the experts in thinking about the best tapering strategy based on what antidepressants someone's currently taking, based on things like the half-life of the drug, the pharmacokinetics of the drug as these clinical practices start to develop and emerge.

Then, thinking about possible risk of drug interactions: What are the hypothetical or adverse effects demonstrated in trials, what might happen with other meds that are not for psychiatric use, and how do we navigate all that?

So, there's a lot to be learned still in terms of what the best clinical practices are and what those screening procedures will be to decide who can get psychedelic-assisted therapy. I think pharmacists can be a big part of that process of helping to navigate that because it is a lot about thinking about drug interaction risk and tapering strategies for antidepressants.