Expert: The COVID-19 Pandemic Became a Mental Health Epidemic, Causing Surge in Interest in Psychedelic Medicine

April 20, 2021

Pharmacy Times® interviewed Dennis O’Neill, president and board member of Biomedican, to discuss how providers are looking to psychedelic medicine to treat certain mental health disorders.

Pharmacy Times® interviewed Dennis O’Neill, the president and board member of Biomedican, to discuss the growing psychedelic medicine market and how providers are beginning to look to psychedelic medicine to treat certain mental health disorders.

During the discussion, O’Neill explained what may have led to the growing acceptance of psychedelic medicine in the United States today, whether the perspectives of health care professionals in relation to the usefulness of psychedelic medicine has shifted alongside consumer trends, and how psychedelic substances produced as medicine are different than psychedelics associated with recreational use.

In order to address these topics, O’Neill noted that despite being relatively new to the pharmaceutical market, psychedelics are not new or foreign to most people.

“It was mostly taken as a recreational drug to get high, and then some people receive some benefits from that. In the 60s and 70s, there was some research done that really showed some health benefits going into this. But the real problem that we have going on today is that we went from a COVID-19 pandemic to a mental health care epidemic, and now we have millions upon millions of people suffering from major mental health issues, and the system is being just overwhelmed by the amount of people that need real help,” O’Neill said.

With this surge in mental health issues among patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, the preexisting problem of the pharmaceuticals that are available for mental health disorders not doing the trick became a much more urgent issue than ever before, according to O’Neill. This then led to the pharmaceutical industry also paying greater attention to the development of psychedelics as medicine, due to the vast amount of research previously published on the subject.

“It's opening up a new division to try some other things and see what other things are out there that have been known to be helpful. With psychedelics, you have a plethora of data in various forms,” O’Neill said. “When you look at the totality of the data that's out there today, and the tall order of real mental health issues that we're really dealing with, this seems to be a highly probable solution for many mental health problems.”

O’Neill also addressed whether there are psychedelic medicines currently available on the market for treating mental health disorders, what mental health disorders psychedelic medicines are known to treat, how psychedelic medicines are able to treat mental health disorders, the value of pharmacists understanding the cutting-edge treatment methods for mental health disorders, what the potential future of the psychedelic medicine market may look like, and where valuable published literature can be found online for reference on psychedelic medicine research.