TGA approves psilocybin, MDMA for treatment-resistant mental illnesses
The use of psychedelics to treat certain mental health issues has been approved by Australia's medical regulator.
After decades of "demonization", psychiatrists in Australia will be authorized to prescribe MDMA --the active element in party drugs like "ecstasy" or "molly" -- and psilocybin beginning in July of this year.
On Friday afternoon, the Therapeutic Goods Administration announced the unexpected announcement.
The drugs will only be authorized to be used in a very limited way and remain otherwise prohibited, but the move was defined as a "very welcome step away from what has been decades of demonization" by Dr. David Caldicott, a clinical senior lecturer in emergency medicine at Australian National University.
Ecstasy is popularly known as 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA), whereas psilocybin is a psychedelic often found in so-called magic mushrooms.
Before they were criminalized, both substances were used experimentally and therapeutically for decades.
Only specially trained doctors will be able to administer MDMA for PTSD and psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression.
Ecstasy was invented in 1912 as an appetite suppressant, but it wasn't until the 1970s that it was utilized in therapy sessions in the United States.
It arrived in Australia as a party drug in the 1980s and was criminalized in 1987.
It is worth noting that many varieties of magic mushrooms grow naturally in Australia, however possessing or supplying psilocybin is banned.
Caldicott detailed that it had become "abundantly clear" that a controlled supply of both MDMA and psilocybin "can have dramatic effects on conditions often considered refractory to contemporary treatment" and that it would benefit returned servicemen and women from the "Australian defense force" in particular.
Meanwhile, cognitive neuropsychologist Prof Susan Rossell, from Swinburne’s Centre for Mental Health, argued that she still had “a significant degree of caution” about the decision and that further research was needed.
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