Psychedelic medicine, and its role in treating mental health issues, are on the agenda at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
As world leaders gather in Davos for the 2022 World Economic Forum this week where they’re likely to discuss the impact of the global climate crisis and war in Ukraine, among other pressing issues, psychedelic wellness is also on the agenda for the first time. The inaugural week-long series is happening at Switzerland’s Medical Psychedelics House of Davos.
The covid pandemic pushed mental health issues to the forefront of discussions in the medical community as depression and anxiety rates skyrocketed.
Energia Holdings Incorporated, which is hosting the event, says mental health is one of the largest underserved areas with few solutions in sight. Treatment-resistant depression affects about 30 percent of sufferers, and many pharmaceuticals bring a host of often-debilitating side effects.
Psychedelics can offer quick and lasting alternative solutions. New York Times best-selling author Michael Pollan dived into the nascent industry in his 2018 book, How to Change Your Mind” What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence.
Psychedelics at Davos
“This is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for the medical psychedelics ecosystem to share the breakthroughs in psychedelic therapeutics for the first time with world leaders,” Marik Hazan, CEO of Energia Holdings Incorporated, which is hosting the event, said in a statement. Energia invests in, acquires, and operates companies working to redefine the future of the healthcare industry.
The psychedelic movement has gained attention from investors including Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary, as well as former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson, and serial investor Peter Thiel, among others.
A growing body of research points to the potential benefits of psychedelic-assisted therapy as a viable treatment solution for a number of conditions. A recent study found 67 percent of patients who underwent a year of treatment with the psychedelic MDMA no longer qualified for a PTSD diagnosis. Other research has touted the benefits of psilocybin mushrooms in depression treatment, among other issues.
“Clinical research findings published in recent years suggest that psychoactive compounds could be very effective for treating mental health ailments, though we still have a lot more research to conduct if we are to roll out these therapies in the safest possible way”, says Maria Velkova, managing partner of Tabula Rasa Ventures, an accelerator that works with psychedelics startups.
Energia’s series is expected to focus on regulatory approval, therapeutic potential, policy, safety and efficacy, biocultural preservation, drug development pipelines, and patient access. Presenters include educational talks and panels featuring prominent experts on psychedelic wellness, including psychedelic researcher David Nichols, PhD; Endowed Professor and Vice Chair of Psychiatry, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Rachel Yehuda, PhD and world-renowned founder of the Beckley Foundation Amanda Fielding. Also in attendance are author Deepak Chopra and TV personality and advocate Jason Silva.
“We know that when the general public hears ‘psychedelics’ they first think about ‘shamans’ and ‘hippies’, but what we hope to show over our weeklong series is the evidence-based legitimacy behind psychedelics when used for treatment in the clinical setting”, added Hazan.
That hippie status lingers still, but it’s being replaced by a wave of peer-reviewed research and facilities at leading universities including Johns Hopkins, Harvard, and NYU. Policies are also following suit; Oregon is the first state to legalize therapeutic psilocybin use and cities including Denver and Washington D.C. have decriminalized recreational use.
Energia’s hope is that the Davos event will further remove the stigmas around psychedelics and spotlight the benefits.
“We want to spark conversations about the high unmet need in mental health, the future of regulatory approval for psychedelic-assisted therapy, provide a platform for establishing meaningful relationships and partnerships, and build trust with the global community,” says Velkova.