Brian Barnett

Psychiatrist | Writer


United States National Institutes of Health grant funding for psychedelic-assisted therapy clinical trials from 2006-2020

Background: Medicine is currently experiencing a "psychedelic renaissance", said by many to have commenced in 2006. Since then, clinical trials have consistently demonstrated promising findings for psychedelic-assisted therapies in the treatment of various mental health conditions and addictions. While most of this work has been privately funded, governmental biomedical research funding bodies in countries such as Australia, Canada, Israel, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom have begun supporti

Opinion | Let Former Opioid Users Keep On Trucking

You’ve heard about supply-chain disruptions causing shortages and inflation, but here’s a surprising contributor: misguided drug policy. The U.S. trucking industry is short some 80,000 drivers in a country where more than 70% of commercial goods reach their destination via truck. One reason is that the U.S. Department of Transportation makes it extremely difficult for would-be truckers to obtain commercial driver’s licenses if they’re being treated for opioid-use disorder with buprenorphine or m

Psychedelic Knowledge and Opinions in Psychiatrists at Two Professional Conferences: An Exploratory Survey

Despite resurgent interest in psychedelic-assisted therapy, our insights into psychiatrists' knowledge and opinions about medicinal psychedelic applications are surprisingly narrow. Therefore, we anonymously surveyed psychiatrists attending psychedelic didactic presentations at two national meetings about these issues using a 26-item questionnaire. Response rate was 40.20% (106/264). Respondents were 41.73 ± 13.31 years old (range: 24-80) and 64.42% were male. They largely believed psychedelics

Intentional Overdose Prevention in the Era of the 90-Day Prescription

The market share of 90-day prescriptions has risen dramatically in recent years, primarily because of increasing incentivization by insurers, pharmacies, and pharmacy benefit managers. Although 90-day prescriptions may benefit patients, they are potentially dangerous for those at risk for suicide. Prior authorization requirements by some insurers for coverage of shorter prescriptions and some pharmacists' newfound ability to unilaterally convert 30-day prescriptions with refills into 90-day supp

Psychedelic Psychiatry and the Consult-Liaison Psychiatrist: A Primer

Background: Psychedelic compounds such as lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), psilocybin, and 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) share a long and complex history with psychiatry. A half century ago, psychedelics were widely employed by psychiatrists in investigational and clinical settings, with studies demonstrating promising findings for their use in the treatment of mental illness and substance use disorders. However, concerns were also raised about their abuse potential and other adverse

NIH: It's time to make your mark on the renaissance of medicinal psychedelics

Just a few years ago, investments in medicinal psychedelic research were rare in even the riskiest of financial portfolios. But with entrepreneurs and financiers now pouring money into developing psychedelic treatments for mental and behavioral health issues, it’s clear that investors, like many scientists, envision a psychedelic path for psychiatry. There’s a notable holdout though: the National Institutes of Health, the world’s largest public funder of medical research. The NIH’s absence from

Opinion | Biden Fumbles Early on Opioid Addiction

Among the Trump administration’s last and best decisions was to allow almost all physicians to prescribe buprenorphine, one of the most effective treatments for opioid addiction. Previously, only doctors who had completed an eight-hour training course and obtained a license from the Drug Enforcement Administration could do so. Only 7% of physicians are certified to prescribe the drug, and more than half of rural counties lacked a single prescriber as of 2018. President Biden had promised during

The Invisible People Behind Our Masks | Annals of Internal Medicine

In response to widespread shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) that have plagued coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) response efforts, hospitals in the United States have developed innovative PPE optimization strategies. Coupled with increased industrial production, these interventions have helped sustain our PPE supply, allowing medicine to continue saving lives while minimizing harm to clinicians. Unfortunately, while combatting COVID-19, our health care system, like those elsewher

Your Liberty or Your Gun? A Survey of Psychiatrist Understanding of Mental Health Prohibitors

This first-of-its-kind national survey of 485 psychiatrists in nine states and the District of Columbia (DC) finds substantial evidence of clinicians being uninformed, misinformed, and misinforming patients of their gun rights regarding involuntary commitments and voluntary inpatient admissions. A significant percentage of psychiatrists (36.9%) did not understand that an involuntary civil commitment triggered the loss of gun rights, and the majority of psychiatrists in states with prohibitors on

To Prevent Suicide Among Veterans, Their Physicians Should Discuss Gun Safety

In mid-October, President Trump signed the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act, drawing praise from veterans and their families. The law memorializes former Navy SEAL Commander Hannon, a veterans’ mental health care advocate who committed suicide in 2018, and seeks to reduce the suicide rate among veterans. It increases oversight of the US Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) mental health and suicide prevention programs and allocates $174 million for these pr

Redefining Medicine's Relationship With the Media in the Era of COVID-19

Pandemics and health disasters are as old as civilization and have continually posed considerable public relations and communication challenges for medicine. Determining which pieces of public health information should be disseminated to the public, as well as when and how, are decisions long fraught with difficulty. The nature of health communication has transformed substantially in recent years as social media has proliferated, making fact and opinion harder to disentangle. The national challe

Addressing in-hospital illicit substance use

US studies have estimated that 34–41% of patients used illicit substances during their hospital stay for injection-related infections. 2 In-hospital illicit drug use, substance use disorders, and acceptance of residential treatment in a prospective pilot needs assessment of hospitalized adults with severe infections from injecting drugs. , 3 In-hospital illicit drug use and patient-directed discharge: barriers to care for patients with injection-related infections. Despite the global ubiquity of

Under prior authorization, who is choosing Americans' medicines?

New Year’s Day, the day of new beginnings, is a day health care providers like me dread. It starts the annual deluge of requests to renew “prior authorizations” — a bureaucratic tactic that insurers use to see how dedicated we are to the treatments we choose for our patients. Walking into the office on the first workday after New Year’s Day we’re inundated by voicemail messages and emails from frantic patients unable to obtain refills for their prescriptions. Until we complete those renewal req

Eastern Kentucky’s Lost Generation and the Echoes That Remain—The Aftermath of the Opioid Epidemic

My friend drew his last breath alone, in the predawn hours of a Tuesday morning this past summer, as his father lay sleeping in another room. He overdosed on fentanyl, silently bringing to a close a life whose final chapters were infused with struggle. His father’s house sits at the foot of a steep, wooded hill, a hundred or so feet up which my friend now rests in the family cemetery, close to home and up high, like most deceased loved ones in Magoffin County’s Appalachian foothills.

Pharmacy Access to Sterile Injection Supplies for People Who Inject Drugs

Drug-related overdoses continue to garner much needed attention in the US. Overdoses are, however, just 1 of many public health issues stemming from substance use. Often less visible, although no less concerning, is the role that injection drugs play in spreading infectious diseases. Millions of people in the US have injected drugs during their lifetime,1 and for people who inject drugs, sterile syringes and needles are often unavailable. By expanding over-the-counter access to sterile injection

Dissemination of Erroneous Research Findings and Subsequent Retraction in High-Circulation Newspapers: A Case Study of Alleged MDMA-Induced Dopaminergic Neurotoxicity in Primates

Ensuring the public is informed of retractions has proven difficult for the scientific community. While it is possible that newspapers focus differential attention on publication of scientific articles and their subsequent retractions, this topic has received minimal attention from researchers. To learn more, we analyzed newspaper coverage of the high-profile 2002 article Severe dopaminergic neurotoxicity in primates after a common recreational dose regimen of MDMA (“ecstasy”) and its retraction

Harnessing Collaborative Care to Meet Mental Health Demands in the Era of COVID-19

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic increasingly weighs on the US psyche as it exposes structural inequities, intensifies long-standing mental health access challenges, and vastly increases the number of individuals in need of treatment. Neuropsychiatric sequelae1 have developed in some survivors after COVID-19 infection, whereas others have been traumatized in their roles as frontline health care workers and first responders. Still others have been stricken with new anxiety or depr
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