London and New York—Two thirds (66%) of doctors in a recent survey say they believe psilocybin therapy has potential therapeutic benefit for patients with treatment-resistant depression (TRD). That's according to a survey sponsored by Compass Pathways plc, a mental health care company dedicated to accelerating patient access to evidence-based innovation in mental health. The survey questioned 259 Sermo member physicians, with participants from the U.S., UK, France, Italy, Denmark, Spain and the Netherlands. Doctors were asked their views on the future of psychiatric therapy and the potential role of psilocybin therapy.

Psilocybin therapy, which is being investigated for the treatment of mental health challenges including TRD, combines the pharmacological effects of a synthesised version of psilocybin, a psychoactive substance that is an active ingredient in some species of mushrooms, with psychological support, according to a press release from Compass Pathways. The potential is significant, as the companies report that more than 320 million people globally suffer with major depressive disorder (MDD) (1), and about one third of these patients (100 million people) aren’t helped by existing therapies and suffer with TRD (2).

Key survey findings, as outlined in the release:

  • 50% of doctors surveyed would prescribe psilocybin therapy, if it was approved; 32% are undecided.
  • The greatest potential advantages to the therapy are believed to be: improved efficacy in treatment-resistant conditions (30%), rapid onset of action (26%), and different mechanism of action from existing therapies (19%).
  • The greatest potential barriers to treatment: needing a dedicated space for six to eight hours (28%), lack of trained therapists in a new model of psychological support (21%), and office infrastructure (15%). Physicians noted the need to educate healthcare professionals on the potential benefits of psilocybin therapy and on how to incorporate the therapy into their practice, if approved.
  • Regarding the optimal setting for psilocybin administration, 50% of European respondents said hospital; 42% of U.S. respondents said specialized network of centers.

“Severe mental illnesses, such as treatment-resistant depression, have affected too many people in society for too long,” said Murali Doraiswamy MBBS, FRCP, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences at Duke University School of Medicine, and an advisor to Sermo, in the release. "Physicians are looking for new approaches to accelerate the healing process, particularly for patients for whom current therapies have failed."

Related: BIPOC May Experience Relief from Effects of Racism Through Psychedelics #NaturallyInformed: This is Your Brain on Food 7 Studied Benefits of Medicinal Mushrooms

Dr. Guy Goodwin, Chief Medical Officer, COMPASS Pathways, added: “These findings underline the fact that physicians need more options in helping patients suffering with treatment-resistant depression. COMPASS is developing COMP360 psilocybin therapy through a rigorous program of research in the hope that we can offer just such an option. It’s very encouraging to see that so many doctors see the potential that psilocybin could have and these insights will help us to understand how to introduce COMP360 psilocybin, with psychological support, into medical systems, if approved.”