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Companies looking to fund psychedelic drug therapy for employees: report

A growing number of companies are exploring the possibility of offering psychedelic drug therapy for their employees as a cost-saving and effective means of mental health treatment, according to a report.

Recent research has shown that well-known party-drugs like MDMA [ecstasy], psilocybin [“magic” mushrooms] and ketamine — which has been legalized for medicinal use — are useful alternatives to treating a slew of mental health issues including depression, anxiety and PTSD.

Jorge Yant, founder of Plexis Healthcare Systems, told The Wall Street Journal that he has started offering psychedelic-assisted therapy coverage to his employees through benefits startup Enthea.

“I’ve experimented with psychedelics myself, and I could see how it could be helpful to people,” Yant told the paper.

Many companies are looking to offer covering psychedelic therapies for their employees. AFP via Getty Images

The businessman said he first began to consider covering psychedelic therapies after an anonymous summary report of prescription drug use at the company revealed how many on his staff were prescribed medications for their mental health.

“The use of antidepressants among my employees and their families was off the charts,” he said.

Yant said he believes the US healthcare system overly emphasizes prescription drugs and believes his workers could benefit from the alternative therapy. 

It will save money over time compared to expensive, traditional therapy sessions and will make his employees happier and more productive, he told WSJ.

Enthea offers its clients ketamine-assisted therapy coverage, and, in the coming months, will be able to cover psilocybin if they are based out of or willing to go to Oregon — where it is now legal for medical use. 

MDMA could be FDA approved for medical use as early as this year. Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies

The company said if MDMA is approved by the Food and Drug Administration, they will add it to their list.

Sherry Rais, Enthea’s CEO, said just this past year more than a dozen companies signed up for the therapy coverage and another 50 have signed letters of intent.

Psychedelic therapy is increasingly viewed as a legitimate treatment for mental health as it becomes more and more mainstream, especially among elites in Silicon Valley and Wall Street.

Elon Musk, among the wealthiest individuals in the world, has been candid about his ketamine use for health reasons — going as far to say his use of the drug is beneficial to his investors and said the drug helps him manage a “negative chemical state” in his heated interview with Don Lemon last month.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin has said he’s used psilocybin, while the late Steve Jobs was a vocal advocate of LSD.

Billionaire Peter Thiel dumped millions into ATAI Life Science, a firm that aims to use hallucinogens in medicine and last year, Mets owner Steve Cohen donated $5 million to MAPS, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelics Studies.

Companies believe their employers will be happier and they will save money. ABC

Last year, 17% of employers reported that they were investing into psychedelic-therapy solutions for their workers’ mental health, according to a survey conducted by benefits consulting firm NFP, cited by WSJ.

While many of Enthea’s new clients are excited to see how their employees respond, there remain concerns among companies about the risk of their workers using the drugs in a non-clinical setting.

Many doctors who aren’t trained as psychiatrists are now adding ketamine to their arsenal for patients to use at home, David Feifel, a psychiatrist and medical director of Kadima Neuropsychiatry Institute in La Jolla, Calif., told the paper.

Deb Smolensky, the head of well-being and engagement with NFP, said that mental health has emerged as the single biggest concern among clients over the past three years.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin has said he’s used psilocybin, while the late Steve Jobs was a vocal advocate of LSD. Sergei –

“The burnout rates are enormous,” she told the Wall Street Journal.

The incredibly high cost of mental health medication is also burdensome for workers.

While ketamine is not FDA-approved to treat depression, doctors offer patients off-label alternatives like Johnson&Johnson’s nasal spray Spravato — a chemically similar drug that has agency approval for adults with depression and is covered by some insurance companies, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Spravato reported full-year sales of $689 million in 2023, up 84% from $374 million the year before, according to a company spokeswoman.

Larger insurance companies are beginning to realize it’s more financially savvy to make an exception and agreeing to cover ketamine for off-label use.  

Smolensky predicted a wider movement towards covering psychedelic-assisted therapies.

“It’s going to come. We see the writing on the wall,” she said.

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