Pharmacist Knowledge of Psilocybin Remains Limited


Survey respondents indicated a lack of comfort around recommending psilocybin therapy to patients.

Pharmacists should keep themselves up to date on current research around psilocybin as a therapeutic option for patients, according to research results presented at the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) 2023 Annual Meeting and Exposition, held March 24-27 in Phoenix, Arizona.1

In phase 2 clinical trials, psilocybin has demonstrated substantial benefits for patients with treatment-resistant depression and cancer-associated depression, anxiety, and alcohol use disorder. Results of a systematic review published in 2022 also showed a positive effect, with immediate anxiolytic and antidepressant benefits lasting for up to 6 months. Pharmacists, the researchers noted, are well-positioned to educate patients around the safety and efficacy of psilocybin; however, there is a dearth of literature describing pharmacist attitudes, knowledge, experiences, and opinions around this emerging therapeutic option.

Investigators recruited licensed pharmacists practicing in 5 Canadian provinces (British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, and Nova Scotia) to complete a 44-question online survey, based on previously validated cannabis questionaries.

Participating pharmacists ages ranged from 25 to 62 years of age. Eight percent of these pharmacists practiced in a community setting, for varying lengths of time.

Results of thes survey demonstrated that 73% of participants lacked formal education around psilocybin; 55% conducted their own research into the psilocybin literature. Sixty percent of respondents indicated that they never received questions about psilocybin, while 40% had these conversations less than once per month. Forty-six percent of respondents said that they were not comfortable with laws surrounding psilocybin, and 86% said that they would not be comfortable with helping patients obtain a medical exemption.

Additionally, respondents were not comfortable with knowledge around psilocybin recommendations, monitoring, or dosing, and only 37% of respondents indicated thinking of psilocybin as a useful alternative to conventional medications.

“Novel findings from our study show the lack of pharmacist experience with psilocybin stemming from the lack of education and easily accessible literature,” the researchers concluded. “Results…highlight the need for additional educational training and further enhancement of the pharmacy curricula.”

1. Sugiarto E, Yuen J. Pharmacists’ experience, knowledge, attitudes, and perspectives of psilocybin in Canada. Presented at: American Pharmacists Association 2023 Annual Meeting and Exposition; March 24-27, 2023; Phoenix, AZ. Poster 1257.
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