Australia becomes first country to approve MDMA and psilocybin for medical use
Authorised psychiatrists will be able to prescribe MDMA to treat post-traumatic stress disorder and psilocybin for depression
Australia has become the first country in the world to approve MDMA and psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, for medical treatment.
On Friday (February 3), the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) announced that starting July 1 later this year, authorised psychiatrists will be able to prescribe MDMA for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, and psilocybin to treat depression, Wired reports.
The news comes as a widening consensus builds among researchers across the world around the potential benefits of the psychoactive drugs to treat certain conditions.
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In December, The Mail reported that MDMA could be made available in US hospitals by 2024, after a successful trial has seen researchers begin the process of gaining drug approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
On the other hand, research published in November found that psilocybin can improve the symptoms for people suffering from severe clinical depression for up to 12 weeks.
Despite this, the news hasn’t been greeted with unanimous approval, with some warning that there is still not enough evidence surrounding how to use the treatments safely and effectively.
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There are also questions surrounding the processes that psychiatrists need to go through to become authorised prescribers, as well as the minimum training that will be required. The TGA is yet to fully lay out the guidelines and what it will look like in practice.
Psychiatrist and senior research fellow at the Psychae Institute at the University of Melbourne, Simon Ruffell, told Wired: “When I woke up, my email was completely flooded with people saying: ‘Have you heard what’s happened?’ I was shocked by the decision.”
He also noted that in indigenous practices across the world, people often train for up to 10 years to become knowledgeable enough to use psychedelic substances for treatments. He said: “I think that a grave error would be to think that psychiatric and psychological qualifications are transferrable to psychedelic substances without additional training."
Isaac Muk is Mixmag's Digital Intern, follow him on Twitter