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The legal and illegal ways people are turning to psychedelics as the drug regulator rejects reclassification bid

4th February 2021

A capsule of psilocybin, the psychedelic compound found in "magic mushrooms".

In Melbourne's St Vincent's Hospital, down the hall from the cancer day unit, there's an unassuming room known simply as "The Retreat".

This is where a select few volunteers are offered a unique opportunity: to confront their deepest fears under a heavy dose of a psychedelic.

Terminally ill patients spend three to four hours here under the influence of psilocybin, the psychedelic compound found in "magic mushrooms".

The participants are supported by therapy before, during and after their psychedelic experience.

"We go to a lot of trouble to make sure that it doesn't look like a hospital room, but it looks more like a really chilled, really comfortable and inviting atmosphere," clinical psychologist Marg Ross said as she walked around the room.

The room known as The Retreat, where patients take part in the psilocybin therapy.

The experience offers patients a rare chance to process the unavoidable reality of their imminent death, and to learn how to say goodbye to everyone they know.

"When you use terms like anxiety and depression, I think it kind of simplifies it a bit," psychiatrist Justin Dwyer said.

"Actually what people are dealing with is terror, which is very difficult to put into words — this sense that you will no longer be.

"The standard treatment, things like anti-depressants, anti-anxiety drugs, really have very little to offer."

It's a novel approach to palliative care, and for the time being, it won't be available in Australia outside these four walls.

Drug proposal rejected

Australia's drug regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), yesterday rejected an application seeking to have two currently prohibited drugs rescheduled as controlled medicines in Australia.

Psilocybin — the drug used in the St Vincent's trial — was one of them.

The proposal sought to make it easier for doctors to prescribe the psychedelic as well as MDMA, also known as ecstasy, to people suffering from chronic anxiety, depression and PTSD.

The TGA's interim decision to reject the change follows an application made last July by the psychedelics advocacy group Mind Medicine Australia (MMA), run by soprano singer Tania De Jong and chaired by her investment banker husband, Peter Hunt.

MMA points to clinical trials completed overseas, where psilocybin was found to be effective in treating anxiety and depression in terminally ill cancer patients.

Last November, Johns Hopkins University in the US found psilocybin to be four times more effective than medicines traditionally prescribed to treat major depression.

But these trials have not yet advanced to Stage 3, which tests safety and efficacy on large populations.

Ms De Jong and Mr Hunt expressed disappointment yesterday at the TGA's desire to wait until current clinical research is complete before the rescheduling of these controversial drugs is considered.

"That could be years away," Mr Hunt said.

"How many people are going to suffer between now and then? And frankly, how many people are going to die from suicide because they can't actually get the treatments they need to get?

"It is frankly nonsense to make these people who are suffering wait any longer."

The TGA cited advice from the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, which argued that while there are indications emerging that psilocybin can offer therapeutic benefits, the evidence "just isn't quite there yet".

The article continues at the source link ...
I do not condone or support any illegal activities. All information is for theoretical discussion and wonder.
All activities discussed are considered fictional and hypothetical. Information of all discussion has been derived from online research and in the spirit of personal Freedom.


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