Clinical trials begin for psychedelic drug to treat opioid use disorder

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A new psychedelic-based drug to treat opioid withdrawal has started its human safety trials.

The drug 18-MC, created by Mind Medicine (MindMed), is a proprietary, orally active, non-hallucinogenic based on the psychedelic drug ibogaine. The company said they feel the drug could be a treatment for opioid withdrawal as well as opioid use disorder. MindMed said the trials are starting on time, despite the COVID-19 outbreak, and they expect the second phase of trials to begin later this year.

The company said it has had to overcome logistics and supply chain challenges to get the drug to clinics so the trials could begin.

“Our ability to start this trial on schedule speaks volumes to both the efficiency and high-caliber clinical development team MindMed has assembled to develop medicines based on psychedelics. Due to the team’s experience, we have an extensive playbook to draw from to manage clinical trials even under the most trying of times,” JR Rahn, MindMed’s co-founder and co-CEO, said. “We feel one of the outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic will be increased rates of opioid addiction and mental health issues. The MindMed team is focused on advancing 18-MC as a potential solution for the opioid crisis and other forms of addiction.”

A 2000 study available on the National Center for Biotechnology Information, National Library of Medicine, found that both ibogaine and 18-MC have the potential to treat opioid addiction, but that 18-MC has lower risk.

“Both ibogaine and 18-MC enhance the locomotor and/or stereotypic effects of stimulants…” the study said. “The data suggest that 18-MC has a narrower spectrum of actions and will have a substantially greater therapeutic index than ibogaine.”

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