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Australia legalizes the medical use of MDMA and psilocybin

For PTSD and treatment-resistant depression

What a week!—First, British Columbia decriminalized drugs and now in a mind-bending turn of events, the Australian government has decided to allow patients who suffer from certain mental health conditions to be treated with MDMA and psilocybin. As of July 1st authorized psychiatrists will be able to prescribe those psychedelic substances as medications. My mind is definitely blown this week. 

The decision to allow prescriptions of those substances is a response to advocacy from the public, the Advisory Committee on Medicines Scheduling and the efforts of an independent expert panel that conducted a systematic literature review and released this report:

“An evaluation of the therapeutic value, benefits and risks of methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) and psilocybin for the treatment of mental, behavioural or developmental disorders.” 

Specifically, the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) will allow the prescription of:

  • Psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression
  • MDMA for post-traumatic stress disorder(PTSD) 

While there may be other uses for those medications, more clinical trials are needed in order to evaluate the usefulness of those substances for other conditions. 

For the specified conditions psilocybin and MDMA will now be classified as controlled drugs under Schedule 8 of the Poison Standard. This allows trained mental health experts, i.e. psychiatrists to obtain approval under the Authorized Prescriber Scheme, following review by a human research ethics committee. For all other conditions the substances will remain prohibited under Schedule 9.

Awkwardly, the TGA has not yet evaluated any specific MDMA or psilocybin products for quality, safety and efficacy. However, they added an amendment allowing the use of “unapproved” medicine.

Lastly, the TGA released an extensive Q&A, which you can find here.