The province of Quebec recently became the first in Canada to cover expenses associated with psilocybin therapy. This comes as the use of psychedelics in mental health care gains popularity across Canada as well as neighboring countries such as the United States.
Therapsil, a nonprofit healthcare advocacy focused on expanding legal, equitable and safe access to psilocybin-assisted therapy, was involved. The advocacy group confirmed that after getting permission from Health Canada, two doctors had succeeded in billing the province of Quebec for treatment using psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy, noting that the entire process had been legal. This marks a turning point in the way mental illnesses are treated and opens up new possibilities for patients struggling with these conditions.
Therapsil highlighted that this was only the beginning, announcing that the company planned to obtain similar outcomes in other provinces across Canada.
Last month, a group of medical professionals and patients went to Ottawa with hopes of being granted compassionate access to psilocybin for adults in Canada suffering from addiction, palliative depression, chronic disease and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Despite being denied a formal meeting with Carolyn Bennett, minister of mental health and addictions and Jean-Yves Duclos, minister of health, the delegation extended its stay in the capital and spoke to other government representatives, province residents people and members of the press. In addition to meeting with health organizations and decision-makers, the medical professionals and patients approached Parliamentarians to increase awareness about psilocybin’s medical benefits.
This meeting educated the public on the psychedelic drug and also recommended that a transparent regulatory approach be implemented to guide medical access to psilocybin, as had been done decades earlier with marijuana.
Earlier in the summer, Therapsil was involved in a lawsuit against the minister of health and the government of Canada, which centered on patients’ access to psilocybin therapy.
Psilocybin is the active compound found in magic mushrooms that induces a high when ingested. Other compounds that naturally occur in psychedelic mushrooms include psilocin. Psilocin and psilocybin are both classified as Schedule III substances in Canada, which means that they can only be accessed legally via specific loopholes.
The case filed against the government by Therapsil argues that the pathways usually used to legally access these drugs are inadequate and do not sufficiently meet the needs of patients who require therapeutic access to psilocybin therapy.
After March 17, 2023, patients suffering from a range of mental health conditions will be eligible for medical assistance in dying, provided that proper precautions are taken by their physicians and all requirements have been met.
As more such actions continue being taken by provincial or local governments, startups such as Seelos Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: SEEL) may be encouraged to ramp up their R&D programs in order to address the growing needs of patients with a host of mental-health indications.
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