doctorow — 2014-03-07T01:01:07-05:00 — #1
catchew — 2014-03-07T05:30:23-05:00 — #2
jake0748 — 2014-03-07T05:43:34-05:00 — #3
This is SUCH good news. Too bad it is so late. But maybe it's never too late to explore scientific advances from 50 - 60 years ago.
klaus_mogensen — 2014-03-07T05:44:35-05:00 — #4
"government czar drugs" should probably be "government drugs czar". Tho' the other thing sounds interesting ...
fuzzyfungus — 2014-03-07T06:55:39-05:00 — #5
What has always struck me as strange is how the 'war on some drugs' effect persists even in pharmacology research aimed mostly at producing definitely-going-to-be-a-controlled-substance-by-prescription-only-for-serious-conditions pharmaceutical compounds.
For the recreational drugs, the reasons are usually shamefully cynical and tend to have an unflattering history; but lots of social arrangements are like that, so it's hardly fundamentally baffling.
The fact that, say, tweaking at the properties of very high powered opiates is (while regulated, you don't just get to take that fentanyl with you to work on over the weekend) perfectly on the up-and-up, 100% respectable research work, with assorted products on the market and in production; but it takes several decades to legally give LSD to a tiny test population, all of which will almost certainly be dead within the short to mid term, just seems weird.
It's even odder given that traversing the search space for new drugs is a daunting and failure-prone task, with billions of dollars at stake, so any molecule that does interesting things to humans and is safe enough that untrained users mostly don't kill themselves would be pure gold in terms of helping to target your development efforts. This obviously doesn't mean 'Novartis to fund clinical trials of, like, nature's medicine, man...'; but I would have expected that full lobbying pressure would be exerted until it became legal(purely for research purposes) to exploit basically any compound on the table as a starting point for tweaking functional groups and looking for marketable behavior. Anything less just seems like leaving money on the table.
euansmith — 2014-03-07T07:12:34-05:00 — #6
I will expect to see this reported by the tabloid media as, "Scientists give test subjects LSD. All test subjects die of cancer; even those give placebo-LSD. Proof that LSD causes cancer."
imb — 2014-03-07T07:22:50-05:00 — #7
I think it is another case of 'follow the money'. Old drugs may have had patent protection, but without alteration in chemical compound, they simply are generics with no big pay day. Why would companies spend money on studies and drugs that don't provide a killing in profits? Plus, I'd guess that 'dying patients' weren't the focus of much drug development because it's a more profitable practice to keep prescribees (made-up word, yes) in the cycle of more drugs over a long period of time. Cynical, I know, but the answer is usually a 'what's in it for me' scenario.
karl_jones — 2014-03-07T07:50:29-05:00 — #8
Fear of dying is an economic driver.
If this Fearless Acid thing catches on, who's going to overconsume in a desperate bid to cheat Death?
waetherman — 2014-03-07T08:05:39-05:00 — #9
I think you also have to consider the political implications of research on hallucinogens; a lot of pharma studies are funded through government grants, and a researcher who gets funding for a study on therapeutic uses for hallucinogens would probably get in hot water if ever a politician got wind of it. And even if it wasn't funded with government money directly, you can bet that a researcher who had done that kind of study could have a hard time getting academic or government positions or grants in the future. Such is the stigma of drugs in this country, and the bias against science.
seymourstein — 2014-03-07T08:07:05-05:00 — #10
I wish I knew where to buy LSD. I think it could help me.
michaelditullio — 2014-03-07T08:10:01-05:00 — #11
I would think knowing that you're going to die combined with LSD would lead to a bad trip almost 100% of the time.
imb — 2014-03-07T08:22:06-05:00 — #12
If you are not told that there is a chance of a bad trip, you might be less likely to have one, according to the placebo article, where the worst things happened to people not given an actual drug.
lt_nemo — 2014-03-07T08:26:47-05:00 — #13
It feels like Western society is on the verge of adopting a sensible attitude toward drug use. Marijuana legalization is slowly proceeding in the US, my own (Canadian) government is talking about ticketing possession instead of laying criminal charges, and there are things like this study.
After all these years, could we finally be waking up?
westfakia — 2014-03-07T08:27:30-05:00 — #14
If you don't know you are going to die then you are deceiving yourself. I think the point of the LSD was to help people accept that fact.
fuzzyfungus — 2014-03-07T09:43:40-05:00 — #15
That is true; but it's why I hypothesized that oldies-but-goodies and 'clearly those people are risking arrest to get a hit because that molecule has something going on' would be valued not directly, slap it in a pill and blow a bunch of money on clinical trials; but as starting points in the incomprehensibly vast ocean of potentially interesting molecules that you could theoretically sift through looking for drugs.
The final product (for both political and financial reasons) would be neither the same compound nor the same name as the 'street' stuff; but 'explore all novel molecules for theraputic application' is absurdly difficult compared to 'LSD clearly has some fascinating hooks into human neurochemistry, a subject that is poorly understood; but which has enough psych sufferers of assorted severity that it would pay like crazy if we got something. Start with LSD and traverse every similar compound you can graft another methyl group onto until we find something that doesn't cause hippie-panic in conservatives and seems to do something for some kind of psych case.' is a much more manageable scope of work.
fuzzyfungus — 2014-03-07T09:51:48-05:00 — #16
That's certainly true, I'm just surprised that it doesn't work the same way(either both yes, or both no) for researchers who work on other classes of drugs. Being pro-heroin, or pro-cocaine, are both political suicide; but perfectly respectable, respected, pharmaceutical chemists pump out opiate synthetics and variants like candy(at least some of them markedly more powerful than the real stuff, like Fentanyl, and others, like Oxycontin, with sufficient real world abuse that they've had their own moral panics. Alkaloids, similarly, are the totally licit friends of dentists and maxillofacial surgeons everywhere, despite being a veritable family-reunion of cocaine-alikes(and sometimes cocaine itself). Nicitinoids aren't terribly lucrative as drugs, since you can just smoke; but the pesticide guys pump those out on an industrial scale.
As for mind-altering, a lot of the not-really-used-anymore-because-REASONS early-attempt antipsychotics and other hardcore Nurse Ratchett stuff is still legal, if not common because it kind of sucks, so it's not as though chemists are consistently kept away from scary or mind altering compounds. That's what makes it hard for me to understand.
euansmith — 2014-03-07T09:57:19-05:00 — #17
Its the 21st Century, where's my Soma!? Have I really got to wait until 2540?
imb — 2014-03-07T10:10:36-05:00 — #18
You have to come up with a wildly popular diagnosis first, like ADHD. Then you can prescribe amphetamines (mind altering drugs) like they going out of style.
fuzzyfungus — 2014-03-07T13:34:26-05:00 — #19
Amphetamines also have Support Our Troops cred. Since at least WWII, basically everyone fielding soldiers under conditions where caffeine just wasn't enough alertness aid used them. (Apparently the Germans had a concept called 'tanker's chocolate', a delicious mix of calorie-rich chocolate and activitytastic amphetamines... Normally field rations sound pretty dreadful; but I'm curious about that one.)
wrecksdart — 2014-03-07T13:36:52-05:00 — #20
If the damned fools of legislators get upset about a reading list from a college, you know, because sex, then they're going to be lining up against those chemical things they don't understand.
Also, and I think someone else mentioned this in a related thread, a lot of this bias has to do with the older set of folks that were barraged with societal/cultural ideas about recreational drugs being bad (LSD, MJ, etc).
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