Pharmacy Times interviewed Jordan Sloshower, MD, MSc, a clinical instructor of psychiatry at the Yale Department of Psychiatry, a member of Chacruna’s Council for the Protection of Sacred Plants, a clinical investigator in MAPS’ Expanded Access Program, a trainer with Usona Institute, co-director of West Rock Wellness, PLLC, and a member of the Board of Directors of the American Psychedelic Practitioners Association. Sloshower discusses his work serving as an investigator and therapist in several clinical trials investigating psilocybin-assisted therapy, and an upcoming course titled Critical Perspectives on Knowledge Production in Psychedelic Science at Chacruna Institute in which he will be addressing some of these issues.
Double-blind studies are considered the gold standard in medical research, as they help to control for biases and ensure the accuracy of the results. However, there are several challenges that can arise when conducting double-blind studies with psychedelics.
One challenge is the difficulty in developing a placebo that is indistinguishable from the active drug.1 Psychedelics have unique and powerful effects that are difficult to replicate with a placebo. This means that it may be difficult to blind participants and researchers to the treatment they are receiving, which can introduce bias into the study.2
Another challenge is the nature of the psychedelic experience itself. Psychedelic experiences can be highly subjective and can vary greatly from person to person. This means that it can be difficult to design a study that accurately captures the full range of experiences and outcomes.3
Additionally, psychedelics have been illegal for decades, which makes it difficult to conduct research on them, as you need to comply with regulations and laws that vary depending on the country. This can also make it difficult to recruit participants, as some may be hesitant to participate in a study involving an illegal substance.4
Finally, psychedelics have been used in traditional medicine and spiritual practices for centuries, which means that many people have a preconceived idea about their effects. This can make it difficult for researchers to control for bias and to ensure that the results of the study accurately reflect the true effects of the drug.