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MDMA and magic mushrooms approved for medical use in Australia

MDMA and magic mushrooms approved for medical use in Australia

Psychiatrists will be able to prescribe the drugs to treat mental health issues

Authorities in Australia have announced that MDMA and magic mushrooms have been approved for medical use.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) shared the news on Friday (3 February), decades after the drugs were made illegal for possession, consumption and distribution.

MDMA and psilocybin, a substance naturally occurring in magic mushrooms, will now be reclassified in Australia to 'controlled drugs'.

The drugs can be prescribed in controlled settings.
Zoonar GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

The change will allow specifically authorised psychiatrists to prescribe the drugs to patients from 1 July, with each drug intended to treat a certain mental health issue.

MDMA will only be prescribed for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, while psilocybin will be prescribed for patients with treatment-resistant depression.

The drugs will remain classified as 'prohibited substances' for all other uses, with the TGA explaining: "These are the only conditions where there is currently sufficient evidence for potential benefits in certain patients."

The TGA noted there are 'currently no approved products containing psilocybin or MDMA that the TGA has evaluated for quality, safety and efficacy', and said the decision 'acknowledges the current lack of options for patients with specific treatment-resistant mental illnesses'.

Certain psychiatrists will be able to prescribe the substances.
Tero Vesalainen / Alamy Stock Photo

“It means that psilocybin and MDMA can be used therapeutically in a controlled medical setting," the administration added.

"However, patients may be vulnerable during psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, requiring controls to protect these patients.”

Dr David Caldicott, a clinical senior lecturer in emergency medicine at Australian National University, described the reclassification of the drugs as a welcome step away from 'demonisation'.

He argued it was 'abundantly clear' that a controlled supply of the drugs can have 'dramatic effects on conditions often considered refractory to contemporary treatment', adding: "The safe ‘re-medicalisation’ of certain historically illicit drugs is a very welcome step away from what has been decades of demonisation."

Some medics have praised the reclassification of the drugs.
gre jak / Alamy Stock Photo

“In addition to a clear and evolving therapeutic benefit, it also offers the chance to catch up on the decades of lost opportunity [of] delving into the inner workings of the human mind, abandoned for so long as part of an ill-conceived, ideological ‘war on drugs’," Caldicott added.

The psychiatrists who can prescribe MDMA and psilocybin from 1 July will need to be approved by a human research ethics committee and the Authorised Prescriber Scheme.

GPs will be able to refer patients to an approved psychiatrist if they believe the drugs to be an appropriate treatment option, or patients may also be eligible to take part in a clinical trial of psilocybin or MDMA.

Featured Image Credit: Joe Bird / Alamy Stock Photo/nigel dodds / Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: Drugs, Health, Mental Health