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Optimizing Psilocybin Dosing for Clinical Precision: The Case for Weight-Adjusted Dosing
Albert Garcia-Romeu, Ph.D.
Sunday, April 23, 2017 • 9:00 PM - 9:30 AM • East Hall
Continuing Education (CE)


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Recent clinical pilot studies have shown safety and feasibility of psilocybin as a therapeutic tool in the treatment of depression, end-of-life anxiety, and substance use disorders. Most psilocybin research to date has used weight-adjusted dosing. However, if psilocybin is to continue towards development as a potential pharmacotherapy, it will be necessary to determine the appropriate dosing strategy for peak efficacy in clinical trials. To address this issue, data were pooled from 7 studies conducted at Johns Hopkins University between 2000 and 2016 in which participants were administered psilocybin doses from 20mg/ 70kg to 30mg/ 70kg body weight. Data on participant age, weight, BMI, absolute dose, and subjective drug effects were examined using correlational and multiple regression analyses. Analyses largely found no significant associations between absolute dose administered and intensity of drug effects, or between absolute dose administered and scores on validated measures of mystical and challenging experiences. Furthermore, the occurrence of challenging experiences as judged independently by study guides did not appear to be related to absolute dose administered. These analyses found that use of weight-adjusted doses of psilocybin did not result in a skewed distribution of subjective effects scores. Higher absolute doses of psilocybin administered to heavier individuals were generally not associated with more mystical or challenging effects, or greater intensity of drug effects. Thus, these data suggest use of weight-adjusted doses from 20 to 30 mg/ 70 kg may be optimal for future clinical trials administering psilocybin for therapeutic purposes.

Funding: Heffter Research Institute, Beckley Foundation, NIDA R01DA003889

Albert Garcia-Romeu, Ph.D., is a member of the Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences faculty at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he studies the effects of psychedelic drugs in humans with a focus on psilocybin as an aid in the treatment of addiction. He received his doctorate in psychology from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Palo Alto, CA where he researched self-transcendence, meditation, and altered states of consciousness.

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