Australia is following in the footsteps of the U.S. with the recent announcement by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) of rescheduling MDMA and Psilocybin from Schedule 9 to Schedule 8.
The announcement follows several applications made to the administration to reclassify MDMA and Psilocybin to the Poisons Standard. It also follows from many public consultations, expert panel discussions, reports, advice, and recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Medicines Scheduling.
While there are no approved MDMA or Psilocybin products on the market, authorized psychiatrists can now legally access and legally supply what is considered “unapproved” medicine containing these substances.
While on the surface, this is positive for patients who can now use these substances in a controlled setting from July 1, 2023, the process will likely be restricted, and individuals will face long approval times for prescriptions.
It’s Great News For Patients, Still
This announcement recognizes the existing lack of options for patients who suffer from specific treatment-resistant mental illnesses. It also identifies how far supporting evidence and clinical trials have come to show the safety and efficacy of these newer substances.
Now patients will be prescribed these substances for treatment-resistant depression, acute mental illness, or PTSD and finally acquire the healing they have longed for for so long.
It’s Not The Finish Line; It’s Only The Start
According to news sources, those hoping to get a prescription may still have to wait a while. “MDMA and Psilocybin are unregistered substances in Australia, so although medical use under some circumstances will soon be legal, access to them will be highly restricted,” the news reports. In addition, the finish line may not be here yet, with patients seeking treatment from only authorized prescribers.
Patients may find these individuals hard to come by, with many needing psychiatrists still needing endorsement from a specialist college, the TGA, or the Human Research Ethics Committee. This path to authorization is lengthy, with the proof of sufficient processes and expertise required.
Predictions state that accessibility to medical MDMA and Psilocybin will follow the same path as the country’s legalized medical cannabis. However, the race may start going on different paths later on. Predictions also see waiting times for prescriptions being weeks or months. Patients could even see lengthy timeframes purely waiting for official decisions to be made concerning accessing these substances.
However, At Least The Race Has Begun
Thanks to the continued lobbying and determined advocacy of patient groups and community members, the race has begun. Now, the most acutely unwell community members suffering from complex psychiatric conditions can find a new avenue for treatment beyond the exhausted therapeutic options they have already tried.
However, as mentioned previously, this race has not been won yet, and the country shows an easier route to the legalization of medical cannabis than that of these new substances. However, the future is unknown, and the political positions and negative perceptions of Psilocybin and MDMA may not hinder the race.
Reasons For The Safeguarding Of Prescription Authorizations
The authorized prescriber scheme will provide safeguards and oversight over these substances as, according to news reports, they are less studied than other treatments and newer to the medical scene. Following this, dialogue between psychiatrists and agencies may take a long time, and with this delay, the negotiation of practical terms which guide permittance and access.
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