FDA Approves LSD for a Phase 2B Clinical Trial to Treat Anxiety
This trial marks the first time in 40 years that LSD, or acid, is being studied as a potential commercial drug.
Published on January 27, 2022

An LSD-based drug just received clearance from the US Food and Drug Administration to begin Phase 2B clinical trials. 

The investigational drug, MM-120, is basically pharmaceutical-grade lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD. Hippies and psychonauts call it “acid,” a clear, odorless liquid that can induce powerful hallucinations, altered states, and otherwise blow anyone’s shit wide open

The company investigating MM-120, MindMed, is a psychedelics medicine company dedicated to treating addiction and mental illness. The latest clinical trial clearance concerns MM-120’s ability to treat Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or GAD, a debilitating mental condition that can interfere with someone’s personal and professional relationships, increase their chances of developing a substance abuse disorder, and increase their chances of suicidal ideation.

“With a clear regulatory path, we look forward to building on this momentum and advancing this trial as quickly and efficiently as possible, bringing us significantly closer to transforming the treatment landscape for patients who suffer from anxiety,” MindMed’s CEO, Robert Barrow, said in a press release.

In the US, FDA-approved clinical trials go through three major phases before they can apply for approval as a medicine. The trials primarily exist to size-up whether the drug is safe, but they also test its effectiveness at treating a condition, too. Phase 1 starts with a small group of test subjects, usually a few dozen. Phase 2 increases the test group to a few hundred subjects. By Phase 3, the studies include hundreds to thousands of participants.

While this may be the first time in 40 years where the FDA is taking a serious look at LSD as a commercial pharmaceutical, it’s not the first time LSD has been studied as a potential medicine. In 2019, the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry published a Spanish paper that assessed nearly a dozen studies for LSD as a psychiatric tool, namely for treating alcohol and other drug addictions. Two of the listed studies looked at the drug’s potential to treat anxiety.

And while MindMed’s CEO is correct to call this latest FDA clearance a “major milestone,” it’s not MindMed’s only one, either. The company is currently studying MM-120 for treating adult ADHD, as well, and that research is currently in Phase 2A. 

In 2020, MindMed also developed an “off-switch” drug for instantly terminating long or bad LSD trips, which would definitely come in handy if a test subject can’t handle their dose. 

On top of these three trials, MindMed has an upcoming drug suite that will include MDMA — (otherwise known as molly or ecstasy), psilocybin (from magic mushrooms), and an ibogaine derivative. Given that MDMA and psilocybin especially are slowly gaining more mainstream acceptance within the medical communities, we may soon see pharmaceutical-grade molly and shrooms alongside whatever sci-fi brand name MindMed cooks up for MM-120. 

For anyone who’s skeptical about psychedelics being used to treat mental conditions or drug addictions: Research shows psychedelic drugs can be far more effective than conventional treatments, namely by opening up the mind so it becomes more flexible, adaptable, and susceptible to permanent healing. Traditional talking psychotherapies and mood stabilizing drugs cannot do that. 

Randy Robinson
Based in Denver, Randy studied cannabinoid science while getting a degree in molecular biology at the University of Colorado. When not writing about cannabis, science, politics, or LGBT issues, they can be found exploring nature somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. Catch Randy on Twitter and Instagram @randieseljay
Share this article with your friends!
By using our site you agree to our use of cookies to deliver a better experience.