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Australia is the first country to allow MDMA and magic mushrooms for medical use

The move has been praised by those in the health and medical industry

Leah Glynn
Written by
Leah Glynn

Australia is the very first country in the world to officially recognise psychedelics as legitimate medicines. Following a landmark announcement by Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) late last week, psychiatrists with specialised expertise will soon be able to prescribe MDMA and psilocybin (AKA magic mushrooms) to patients with specific treatment-resistant mental illnesses like post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

The changes will come into effect soon, from July 2023. It won’t be a free-for-all, of course, with prescriptions to be limited and the drugs to remain prohibited for any other use. 

“Prescribing will be limited to psychiatrists, given their specialised qualifications and expertise to diagnose and treat patients with serious mental health conditions,” a statement published by the TGA read. “The decision specifically recognises the current lack of options for patients with specific treatment-resistant mental illnesses and the supporting evidence of safety and efficacy from clinical trials.”

It has also not yet been confirmed how psychiatrists will provide access to the drugs, as there are currently no approved medicines containing MDMA or psilocybin that are available and approved by the TGA for prescription on the market.

While the news comes as a surprise to many, considering Australia is regarded as a relatively conservative country, it has also been praised by those in the health and medical industry.

“The safe ‘re-medicalisation’ of certain historically illicit drugs is a very welcome step away from what has been decades of demonisation,” said Dr David Caldicott, a clinical senior lecturer in emergency medicine at Australian National University. “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’.”

The TGA’s decision to reclassify these drugs comes off the back of thousands of Australians who lodged submissions in support of the change, where it was deemed that the benefits far outweighed any risks. More information regarding the legalisation of these drugs is set to be released over the coming months.

In other news, new data shows a high proportion of Sydneysiders are satisfied with their quality of life.

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