Australian patients will have legal access to the psychedelic drugs psilocybin and MDMA under a plan announced by regulators last month. But with no approved source of the drug available to therapists, patients can face charges of tens of thousands of dollars to receive promising treatment.
Last month, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), the Australian government’s medicines and treatments regulator, announced that qualified psychiatrists will be able to prescribe the hallucinogens psilocybin and MDMA for the treatment of certain mental health conditions starting later this year. announced that it will be However, agencies have not approved products containing promising psychedelics, forcing mental health professionals to source the drugs themselves. Without it, psychiatrists estimate that patients will have to pay as much as A$25,000 (about $17,000), and even more for psychedelic-assisted therapy.
“For a real patient, it might cost $25,000, $30,000 to treat.” Dr. Stephen Bright saidSenior Lecturer at Edith Cowan University and Director of the charity Psychedelic Research in Science and Medicine.
“Frankly, I don’t think these treatments will be widely available for 12 to 18 months after July 1,” he added. “The tightly controlled treatment means very few psychologists are raising their hands. There are a few clinics opening, but I don’t think the floodgates will open.”
Dr. Paul Liknitsky, head of the Clinical Psychedelic Lab at Monash University, said last month that he and other mental health professionals will partner with investors to open a psychedelic assist therapy clinic in Melbourne. made it clear that However, training requirements for therapists and detailed guidelines for such treatments have not yet been issued by government regulators.
“It lacks detailed clarity that will help us understand how TGA will unfold. We are concerned, but cautiously optimistic.”
Rickneitzky said he and his colleagues would help establish a protocol that would set high standards for ethical and effective psychedelic supportive therapy. He warned that he might not receive treatment.
“Based on decades of best practice development, a wise and safe treatment approach includes considerable screening, psychotherapy, and other support. A typical course of treatment over several months costs 25,000 people. It could be on the order of $10,000 plus or minus $10,000,” he said.
Psychedelic-assisted therapy shows promise
Ongoing research shows that psilocybin, the primary psychoactive compound in magic mushrooms, is an effective treatment for several serious mental health conditions, including PTSD, major depressive disorder, anxiety disorders and substance abuse disorders. has been shown to be possible.a Studies published in 2020 The peer-reviewed journal JAMA Psychiatry found that psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy was a fast-acting and effective treatment for a group of 24 participants with major depressive disorder.
another study Psilocybin treatment, announced in 2016, determined to significantly and sustainably reduce depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer. study It was published in the magazine nature medicine We have determined that MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy, is a highly effective and safe treatment for patients with severe PTSD.
But Professor Chris Langmead of the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences says it’s unlikely public health agencies will cover the cost of such treatments until further studies, including cost-benefit analyses, are completed.
“We are aiming for a significant increase in research and funding so that we can conduct research, clinical studies, and the development of practice. [to ensure] This is not a purely market-driven solution that the most disadvantaged are missing out on,” he said. “The TGA has put Australia at the forefront of the world and we need to take this opportunity and make the most of it.”
Gillinder Bedi, an associate professor at the University of Melbourne, said the lack of clinical staff trained in psychedelic supportive therapy is also making it difficult for patients to get treatment.
“The infrastructure is set up. “If you put two clinical psychologists in the room for her eight hours, [Medicare] Billing rate of $120 per hour – This is not what people charge, it’s what they charge $200 to $300.I think it should be higher [than $25,000].
“No matter how you look at it, it will take longer and cost more than other treatments. Bedi added. “But at least in the early stages, it will be for people with money.”