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The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has made an interim decision on whether some psychoactive drugs can be used to treat mental illness in Australia.

The TGA chose not to reschedule MDMA and psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, from a prohibited substance (schedule 9) to a controlled medicine (schedule 8).

A reclassification would not mean the drugs could be taken home with a patient or change any restrictions on recreational use of the substances.

READ MORE: MDMA and psilocybin may soon be used to treat mental illness

READ MORE: Australian-first psychedelic drug trial could change how we treat mental illness

Peter Hunt and Tania De Jong.

Mind Medicine Australia initially submitted the rescheduling applications to the TGA in July 2020, and now have a number of weeks to resubmit evidence.

Co-founder Peter Hunt said today he is disappointed but not discouraged.

“The beauty of this is that it is consultative,” he told Nine.com.au.

“We think there are a number of mistakes in the draft reasoning and it’s now incumbent on us to explain those mistakes to the regulator and to the provide the evidence.”

Tania de Jong AM, also a co-founder of the charity, said people with severe treatment-resistant mental illness should not be denied a cure.

“We live in a country with some of the worst mental health statistics in the World and where an enormous number of people are suffering with treatment resistant conditions. 

“Nothing else is working for them. It is time to give all Australians, who live with multiple failed attempts at recovery, the opportunity to access treatments that will improve and save lives.”

Magic mushrooms

Dr Simon Longstaff AO, Executive Director of the Ethics Centre and MMA board member said one of the biggest hurdles is the stigma.

“We should not allow the prejudices of the past to deny relief in the present.

“If these medicines are safe and effective when applied in a clinical environment, as current research suggests, then Australian governments have an obligation to make them available.”

NSW GP Dr Jamie Rickcord echoed these concerns yesterday before the interim decision.

“It changes the conversation, it means that the science and the medical benefit, and the potential to relieve peoples’ suffering has been recognised as being more powerful than the stigma attached to these substances,” he told nine.com.au.

“We totally get that lots of people aren’t ready for it, but the conversation ends if they are schedule 9 compounds.

“It’s not like we are going to start dosing people en masse… It’s done by highly trained empathetic humans who know how to navigate the terrain.”

Contact reporter Freya Noble at frnoble@nine.com.au.