A recently published study compared various methods and associated costs of treating difficult-to-treat depression.
Published June 2nd, 2023 by Cambridge University Press, the study titled “Cost-effectiveness of psilocybin-assisted therapy for severe depression: exploratory findings from a decision analytic model”aimed to study the effectiveness of psilocybin for treating depression compared to conventional methods (1).
“With rising numbers of people in the UK prescribed anti-depressants and increasing chronic use, it’s clear the need for innovative treatments for depression has never been more pressing,” said Dr. Henry Fisher, Chief Scientific Officer at Clerkenwell Health and study author (2). “Our research finds that there is great potential for psilocybin to be a cost-effective therapy for severe depression–with higher quality impacts for the individuals and society.”
The study found that over six months the expected number of quality-adjusted life years (QALY) was greatest for the psilocybin treatment, followed by cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) plus conventional medication (1). The study also compared the cost effectiveness of psilocybin, CBT, and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), noting the outcome of reducing the cost of the therapist by 50% and the cost of psilocybin from £800 per person to £400 (1).
“Psilocybin has the potential to be a cost-effective therapy for severe depression,” the authors concluded (1). “This depends on the level of psychological support that is given to patients receiving psilocybin and the price of the drug itself…The results indicate positive findings from a societal perspective, which may identify and facilitate more cost-effective approaches to psilocybin therapy. It is essential to better understand who the drug should be prioritised for in terms of treatment resistance and how much therapist support is required.”
“While this is a relatively expensive treatment option, the improved outcomes that seem to be achieved may justify this extra cost especially as there are few treatment options for those with the hardest to treat forms of depression,” stated Paul McCrone, Professor of Healthcare Economics at University of Greenwich and study author (2). “More research is needed, especially on the level of therapist support that is required, but this is an interesting therapy and could well be positioned alongside more conventional treatments.”