James Rucker
Consultant psychiatrist

Psychedelics, Clinical Trials and the Profit Motive. Some Thoughts from the Psychedelic Trials Group at King’s College London.

Most new treatments in medicine are tested for safety and effectiveness through a series of legally-mandated clinical trials. New treatments cost around $300,000,000 to develop, often over a decade or more. Historically, governments have chosen to delegate that cost to the profit-driven pharmaceutical industry. This creates an uneasy tension with healthcare. Elements of this tension appeared in the psychedelic field when UK-based Compass Pathways announced a switch to a for-profit model. Compass fund KCL, where I lead the Psychedelic Trials Group, to undertake trials with psilocybin. I will discuss our work to date, attempt to dispel some myths and conclude by suggesting that, whilst the profit motive is by no means an ideal fit, it is likely to be a necessary part of challenging stigma and bringing a paradigm-shifting therapy to those who would never otherwise have access to it.

James Rucker is a consultant psychiatrist at the Maudsley Hospital in Denmark Hill, south London and a senior clinical lecturer in psychopharmacology at The Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London, where he leads the Psychedelic Trials Group. In 2018 he was awarded the largest UK government grant ever (£1.2M) for the study of psilocybin in resistant forms of depression, via the National Institute for Health Research’s Clinician Scientist Programme.