The need for establishing best practices and gold standards in psychedelic medicine

Psychedelic substances are under investigation in several drug development programs. Controlled clinical trials are providing evidence for safe and effective use of psychedelic therapies for treating mental health conditions. With the anticipated FDA approval of MDMA-assisted therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder in 2023 and psilocybin therapy for depression disorders soon after, now is the time for the medical community to become informed on best practices and to actively participate in developing standards of care for these new treatments. Given the emergence of numerous drug sponsors and other companies developing therapeutic modalities for combination with psychedelic medications, it is essential that the medical professional field is at the forefront of communicating unbiased information related to safety and effectiveness. Gold standards have long been a part of medicine and serve to distinguish treatments and assessments as the highest quality by which all others can be compared to. For a treatment to be established as a gold standard, several factors are considered including the quantity and quality of the supporting data, the rigor of trials, and the safety and efficacy compared to other treatments. In this article, we review the origins of psychedelic-assisted therapy (PAT), minimum requirements for safe use of psychedelics, criteria for gold standards in mental health, and the nuances regarding how to establish gold standards in psychedelic medicine and guide clinical decision making.

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