The Royal Society of Chemistry reports that a research project investigating the potential benefits of LSD assisted psychotherapy for people with terminal illnesses has been given the go-ahead by the Swiss authorities.
The Multidisciplanary Association for Psychedelic Studies, part funders of the study, have more about it on their website, including copies of the ethics application and research plan.
MAPS have done huge amounts to make the study of psychedelic drugs both scientifically respectable and acceptable to the regulatory authorities, many of whom are still twitchy from when scientific research into the area was effectively outlawed following the 1960s.
The study is an early exploration, more of a pilot study really, but is being conducted in accordance with the strict standards for clinical trials.
According to the study protocol [pdf], the plan is:
We will conduct this randomized, active-placebo controlled investigation in order to redevelop a treatment method of LSD-assisted therapy for people confronting anxiety relating to advanced-stage illnesses and to gather preliminary evidence on the safety and
efficacy of this treatment in this population using current scientific standards.
Eight of twelve participants will be assigned to the experimental intervention dose condition (called verum (“true”) dose, 200 ¬µg LSD), and four of twelve will be assigned to the low dose condition (called active placebo dose, 20 ¬µg LSD). Participants enrolled in the study will receive two sessions of LSD-assisted psychotherapy separated by a two to four week interval.
These experimental sessions will be embedded within a course of six to eight individual non-drug psychotherapy sessions that will first prepare participants for LSD assisted therapy and then help participants integrate material from the LSD-assisted sessions.
An independent rater will assess anxiety levels, quality of life, and pain throughout the study and until two months after the second experimental session. The use of anxiety and pain medications will be assessed throughout the duration of the study via diaries kept by participants.