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Sunday, June 13, 2021
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UW to offer masters degree in psychoactive drugs

The UW-Madison School of Pharmacy is launching a master’s degree program in psychedelic drug therapy in the fall of 2021, the first of its kind in the nation. 

The fully-online Psychoactive Pharmaceutical Investigation program will look to examine the relationships between psychedelic drugs and mental health, including MDMA, also known as ecstasy; psilocybin, the active ingredient in mushrooms; ketamine and more. 

Many of the drugs studied in the program fall under the Schedule 1 classification, meaning they are banned for medical use and are highly addictive, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

However, the therapeutic drug sector is expected to grow by 20% per decade. According to UW News, the market will be worth about $100 billion by 2030. 

“This master’s program was designed in collaboration with external partners to ensure that graduates will leave the program with real-world knowledge and in-demand job skills,” Director of the Psychoactive Pharmaceutical Investigation program Cody Wenthur said in a press release. “The scope of the psychedelic research ‘renaissance’ is rapidly expanding beyond academic research.”

These drugs have been tied to relieving problems including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health disorders, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.  

“Anything that can help reverse those extremely worrisome outcomes will be met with a great deal of enthusiasm,” Wenthur said.

Currently, the Food and Drug Administration has designated psilocybin as a “breakthrough therapy” drug to treat depression and MDMA to treat PTSD.

UW-Madison has already made breakthroughs in psychedelic drug treatments, as the university is currently a research site for a Phase 2 study of psilocybin mushrooms to treat depression and a Phase 3 study of MDMA to treat post-traumatic stress disorder

UW Health also currently uses ketamine therapy to treat depression.  

The program begins in 2022 and will offer a 1-year accelerated option. Students will also be able to complete a 12-credit capstone certificate in Psychoactive Pharmaceutical Investigation. Doctor of Pharmacy students will also have the ability to complete courses in the subject. 

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