Psilocybin-based treatment combined with therapy may provide more cost-effective solution to treating Major Depressive Disorder than methods such as CBT
It was also found to be more effective in treating patients, with higher quality-adjusted life years following treatment and a greater societal impact
Clerkenwell Health, is one of the UK’s leading clinical trial providers for psychedelic treatments, developing trials to test depression treatments
According to a new study published by Cambridge University Press, treatment using psilocybin combined with therapy may be a more cost-effective approach for treating major depressive disorders compared to traditional methods. The study, titled ‘Cost-effectiveness of psilocybin-assisted therapy for severe depression: exploratory findings from a decision analytic model,’ reveals that the cost of psilocybin treatment combined with therapy from one therapist is £5239, assuming a cost of £1200 for psilocybin.
Furthermore, psilocybin-based treatment has shown to have better outcomes in terms of improving the quality of life for patients. The study found that psilocybin treatment resulted in a quality-adjusted life year (QALY) that was nearly 10% higher than the next most effective treatment, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).
This research comes at a time when the use of antidepressants in England is on the rise, with over a quarter of patients on antidepressants having taken them for five years. The total number of people on antidepressants in England has reached eight million, showing a one million increase in the past five years.
The study was conducted by renowned academics in the field of economics and psychedelics, including Professor Paul McCrone from the University of Greenwich, neuropsychopharmacologist David Nutt, and Henry Fisher and Clare Knight from Clerkenwell Health, one of the leading clinical trial providers for psychedelic treatments in the UK.
These findings provide strong evidence that the future of treatment for certain mental health-related illnesses lies in the combination of psychedelics and therapy. Clerkenwell Health is actively involved in advancing this field, with plans to launch several trials in 2023 focusing on conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), treatment-resistant depression, and alcohol use disorder.
Clerkenwell Health has also been pioneering the use of a single therapist in their trials, challenging the conventional practice of using two therapists per patient. They believe that with the right support systems in place, one therapist can deliver high-quality treatment comparable to studies that involved two therapists.
The company is currently working on the design and implementation of trials to explore the use of psychedelics like psilocybin in the treatment of depression and PTSD. They are actively recruiting patients for these trials.
Dr. Henry Fisher, Chief Scientific Officer at Clerkenwell Health, states, “With the increasing number of people in the UK being prescribed antidepressants and the growing chronic use, there is an urgent need for innovative treatments for depression. Our research suggests that psilocybin could be a cost-effective therapy for severe depression, leading to significant improvements in quality of life for individuals and society as a whole.
“We urge healthcare professionals and policymakers to seriously consider these findings, which indicate that psilocybin has the potential to be a groundbreaking treatment for depression in the NHS and for the millions of people receiving treatment for depression in the UK.”
Professor Paul McCrone, Professor of Healthcare Economics at the University of Greenwich, comments, “While this treatment option may be relatively expensive, the improved outcomes it offers may justify the additional cost, especially considering the limited treatment options available for individuals with severe forms of depression. Further research is needed, particularly to determine the level of therapist support required, but this therapy shows promise and could be integrated alongside more conventional treatments.”
Professor David Nutt, Professor of Neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London, adds, “As part of Drug Science, we are pleased to have contributed our expertise to this important study. Given the current unmet mental health needs, there is an urgent need for new treatments. Our studies at Imperial College London, as well as research globally, have shown that psilocybin is an effective treatment for severe depression. This study now demonstrates that psilocybin also has the potential to be a cost-effective therapy for this condition, which is crucial for advancing psilocybin-assisted therapy as a viable treatment in public healthcare.”
Professor Joanne Neill, Professor of Psychopharmacology at the University of Manchester, emphasizes, “Our initial health economics analysis of psilocybin-assisted therapy for depression is an important step toward enabling patient access via the NHS in the UK.”
The economic impact of depression in the UK is significant, with studies estimating the annual cost to be at least £118 billion. It is clear that exploring innovative and cost-effective treatment options, such as psilocybin-assisted therapy, is crucial in tackling this societal issue.