The Big Pharma ‘model’ for mental health care: keep sick people sick to maximize profits.
The psychedelic medicine treatment model: curing sick people.
Which treatment model has more profit potential? In fact, it is the latter.
An interesting debate is developing about the long-term commercial potential of psychedelic medicine and it goes like this.
Psychedelic medicine is showing (in growing volumes of clinical studies) that it can deliver actual cures for mental health disorders. Conventional medicine is only able to provide minimally effective treatment of the symptoms of these disorders. People frequently remain in treatment for years, even permanently.
Thus (the argument goes) psychedelic medicine’s commercial potential will steadily shrink with time – as more and more people are cured of their mental health disorders.
In fact, Psychedelic Stock Watch will explain why curing mental health disorders will provide more robust commercial potential over the long term, not less. More on this later.
The Big Pharma strategy in drug development
The line of thinking above follows the Big Pharma ‘business model’ for pharmaceutical development: the best way to maximize profits is to keep sick people sick.
When Big Pharma had finished development of its suite of SSRI-based antidepressants for depression, it effectively put the breaks on most of its research into mental health-based drugs. By 2016, R&D funding in this area had been slashed by 70%.
Were these antidepressants very successful in treating depression (and other disorders)? Not at all.
In fact, 50% of the people prescribed these dubious drugs derive no benefit. Of those who do report some benefit, roughly 1/3rd of that is just a placebo effect.
Big Pharma had developed a line of drugs that probably wouldn’t cure people, but probably wouldn’t kill them either.
Better still (from the perspective of the drug multinationals), antidepressants are addictive. Lifetime revenue streams.
Ever watch the commercials for the new chemical concoctions produced by the world’s largest drug companies? Often half the commercial is taken up warning of “potential side effects” that can include death or other catastrophic results.
These drugs rarely deliver cures, just varying degrees of relief from symptoms.
Keeping sick people sick. And the side effects from these mediocre and often dangerous pharmaceuticals frequently result in yet more prescriptions – to treat the side effects.
Psychedelic medicine: cures versus crutches
A recent Psychedelic Stock Watch article centered on the enormous treatment gap in mental health between psychedelic medicine and conventional therapies.
Conventional medicine is providing partially-effective relief from symptoms. Consequently, the Mental Health Crisis gets worse and worse and worse.
Today, roughly 2 billion people have treatable (but generally untreated) mental health disorders.
Clinical testing of psychedelic drugs is showing the capacity to deliver cures for these same disorders. And doing so with amazing efficiency. Readers who want more details on this treatment-gap should read that previous piece.
Addicts no longer crave their drug. Depressed people are no longer depressed. PTSD patients cease to be traumatized.
From the Big Pharma perspective on healthcare, this is bad. People no longer need treatment. The revenue stream ends.
Short-sighted thinking that is as stunted as it is immoral.
Because conventional therapies for depression are so ineffective, and the drugs have harmful side effects, and the drugs are addictive, two-thirds of Americans with symptoms of depression don’t even seek treatment.
The depression treatment population is only 1/3rd as large as it could/should be – if the healthcare system provided therapies that actually worked.
Similarly, people with other mental health disorders often quit their therapy in frustration. They simply live with their disorders, untreated.
Enter psychedelic medicine (and safe psychedelic drugs).
Successful therapies generate repeat business
If (when) next-generation psychedelics-based therapies for depression are legalized, presumably the two-thirds of depressed Americans who have shunned ineffective conventional therapies will flock to these clinics for treatment.
An opportunity to (finally) obtain genuine relief from their suffering.
Assuming that results from clinical studies are replicated, most of these patients will be cured. What then?
These patients will not only recommend such therapies to their friends/family/co-workers, they may return for additional therapy themselves.
Being “cured” of depression does not mean that the person becomes immune to depression for the rest of their lives. Subsequent traumas or cumulative stresses could (and will) lead to new depression disorders in many of these people.
Look around. Our lives (and the world) have never been so stressful. Suicide has been an “epidemic” in the United States going back at least eight years.
And the world is getting worse, not better. Stress from Covid lockdowns led to drug overdose deaths in the U.S. soaring by 30% in 2020 -- year over year.
New traumas and/or cumulative stress may cause previously-cured addicts to develop new addictions. Previously traumatized military personnel and first responders can (and will) become re-traumatized if they remain exposed to their elevated levels of stress. Previously depressed people will become re-depressed.
Having successfully treated their disorder once with psychedelic medicine, these people will be highly motivated to seek treatment again.
Making sick people well: what a concept!
The Big Pharma business model of keeping sick people sick is not the only path to profit maximization in pharmaceuticals. It’s a great way to turn a problem into a “crisis”. It’s a great people to drive people away from therapy.
It has previously generated a lot of profits for multinational pharmaceutical companies. But look where we are today.
Roughly 1 in 4 people globally have a treatable mental health disorder. Increasing numbers of these people are seeking alternative remedies, or simply shunning treatment altogether.
The genie is now out of the bottle with respect to psychedelic medicine. Practically every week, another article appears in the mainstream media touting the “psychedelic renaissance” – and the potential of these drugs to revolutionize mental health care.
The Big Pharma model of providing only partial relief of symptoms for mental health disorders is coming to an end.
If backward politicians continue to pursue their failed War on Drugs thinking with respect to psychedelics, people will simply look to self-medicate with these substances – a lose/lose scenario.
The win/win scenario
Legalizing psychedelic medicine is literally the only path forward.
The Mental Health Crisis is not just a humanitarian crisis. It is also an economic crisis – costing the global economy trillions of dollars each year.
Conventional therapies (and Big Pharma medications) have failed.
In a world of maximum stress, nothing less than mental health therapies of maximum effectiveness will suffice.
Sick people will (finally) get cured. And in the future, a large percentage of those people will get cured again – perhaps more than once.
People are “cured” of flu viruses every day. And every day, people who have previously been cured get infected again.
As Psychedelic Stock Watch has previously observed, the Mental Health Crisis is now a global pandemic which dwarfs the Covid-19 pandemic itself.
There are approximately 100 current mental health disorders per active Covid infection. Over 8 million preventable deaths per year from these mental health disorders.
Every day, 22 U.S. veterans commit suicide. Every 5 minutes, another American dies from a drug overdose.
There will be some concerns in commercializing psychedelic medicine going forward. Profit potential is not one of those concerns.