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Europe’s first psychedelic drug trial firm opens in London

Clerkenwell Health aims to establish the UK as the heart of the commercial psychedelic research ecosystem, working closely with experts and drug developers around the world to tackle some of the most complex mental health conditions.

After decades of demonisation and criminalisation, psychedelic drugs are being proved to have profound implications for a field that in recent decades has seen few pharmacological advancements.

I’m talking, of course, about the treatment of conditions such as depression, PTSD, and addiction.

Now more than ever before – amid a mental health crisis that post-pandemic has care services bursting at the seams – there’s a great body of evidence about their enormous medical potential as well as a recognition that we are in dire need of new therapeutic tools.

Thankfully, the psychedelic renaissance is well underway, regardless of the complications the status of these compounds as controlled substances brings, such as making it bureaucratically challenging and expensive to progress them through clinical trials.

UK on the Brink of a Psychedelic Therapy Revolution

During the last 12 months, we’ve seen top universities race to set up research centres, investors pour millions into the market, US states begin to loosen restrictions, and advocates argue psychedelics could help us solve seemingly intractable crises like environmental destruction and economic inequity.

Not only this, but just a few weeks ago, Europe’s first commercial facility for psychedelic drug trials opened in London, making the UK a global leader in psychedelics research and innovation.

The news comes on the back of recent discussions between scientists and policymakers on the future of the psychedelics industry in Europe.

According to The Times, this has been made possible by Britain’s Covid-vaccine success (which shows the nation’s unique ability to fast-track medical facilities) and Brexit, namely the Innovative Licensing and Access Pathway it introduced, which aims to reduce the time to market for innovative therapies.

Clerkenwell Health | Psychedelic Clinical Trials Specialist

Set to begin trials in August, the firm will be run by British start-up Clerkenwell Health. The clinic has been developed ‘specifically with psychedelics in mind’ with features that allow people to ‘feel a connection to nature and humanity.’

It aims to initially focus on the use of psilocybin to help people deal with the anxiety associated with a diagnosis of terminal illness, and to support them through their end-of-life-care.

Planned in collaboration with Toronto-based biotechnology company Psyence, this is known as adjustment disorder – an emotional or behavioural reaction to a stressful event in someone’s life.

Going forward it will work with multiple drug developers to tackle a range of complex mental health conditions using various psychedelic agents and will also offer training for therapists who want to work with psychedelic drugs.

Psychedelic startups think ketamine, MDMA, and psilocybin could be a big business - Vox

‘Psychedelic assisted therapy could be ground-breaking for mental health treatment, and the UK is well placed to be at the vanguard of that as a global leader in clinical trials post-Brexit,’ says CEO Tom McDonald.

His hope is that the facility, which has three treatment rooms, will become a centre of clinical excellence treating patients with a wide variety of mental illnesses.

‘With a huge rise in people contacting mental health services in recent years, and with one in ten consultant psychiatric posts in the NHS currently unfilled, there has never been a more desperate need to identify new and innovative treatments,’ he continues.

‘Our aim is to establish the UK as the heart of the commercial psychedelic research ecosystem, working closely with mental health experts and drug developers around the world to tackle some of the most complex mental health conditions.’


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