Patients in Australia will soon be able to legally access the narcotic drugs psilocybin and MDMA under a plan announced by regulators last month. But with no approved source of the drug available to therapists, patients will likely face bills in the tens of thousands of dollars for the most promising treatment.
Last month, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), the Australian government’s medicine and treatment regulatory body, announce that qualified psychiatrists will be able to prescribe the psychedelic drugs psilocybin and MDMA to treat certain mental health conditions starting later this year. But the agency has not approved any products that contain promising psychedelic drugs, leaving mental health professionals to source the drugs themselves. Without government support to help cover the cost of the drugs, psychiatrists estimate patients will have to pay up to A$25,000 (nearly $17,000) and more money for psychedelic-assisted treatment.
“For an actual patient, the treatment could be $25,000, $30,000.” said Dr. Stephen BrightHe is Lecturer at Edith Cowan University and Director of the Charitable Trust for Psychological Research in Science and Medicine.
“I honestly don’t think, in the next 12 to 18 months after July 1st, that these therapies will ever be very widely available,” he added. “The tight controls on treatment mean there are very few psychologists who raise their hands. There will be a few clinics that open their doors, but I don’t think we’ll see the gates open.”
Dr Paul Lichnitzky, head of the Psychiatry Laboratory at Monash University, revealed last month that he and other mental health professionals would partner with investors to open a psychedelic-assisted treatment clinic in Melbourne. But training requirements for therapists and detailed guidelines for such treatment have yet to be released by government regulators.
“There is a lack of detailed clarity from the TGA to help us understand how it is being rolled out. We are concerned but cautiously optimistic,” he said.
Liknitzky said he and his colleagues will help establish protocols that set high ethical and effective standards for anaesthesia-assisted treatment. But he cautioned that the high cost of treatment may make treatment unavailable to most Australians.
“Reasonable and safe treatment approaches, based on decades of best practice development, will include substantial screening, psychotherapy and other support. A typical course of treatment, lasting a few months, may be in the range of $25,000, plus or minus $10,000,” he said. “If it turns out to be cost-effective, it would be in the government’s interest to fund it.”
Anesthetic-assisted treatment shows promise
Ongoing research has shown that psilocybin, the primary psychoactive compound in magic mushrooms, has the potential to be an effective treatment for many serious mental health conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder, major depressive disorder, anxiety, and substance use disorders. a Study published in 2020 In the peer-reviewed journal JAMA Psychiatry, I found that psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy was a fast-acting and effective treatment for a group of 24 participants with major depressive disorder.
Separate search The publication in 2016 determined that psilocybin treatment led to a significant and sustained reduction in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer. And in 2021, A.J Stady Published in the journal NatureMedicine determined that MDMA, better known as Ecstasy, is a highly effective and safe treatment for individuals with severe PTSD.
But Professor Chris Langmead of the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences says it is unlikely that public health agencies will cover the cost of such a treatment until more research is completed including a cost-benefit analysis.
“We’re trying to get a big wave of research and funding in order to be able to do research, clinical studies and practice [to ensure] This is not a purely market-driven solution where the most disadvantaged population is missing out.” “The TGA has positioned Australia at the forefront of the world and we really need to seize the opportunity and make the most of it.”
University of Melbourne associate professor Gilinder Bedi said a shortage of clinical staff trained in narcotic-assisted treatment would make it difficult for patients to get treatment.
“The infrastructure will be set up. There will be clinics. But the problem is we don’t have staff. People can’t even see psychiatrists under normal circumstances,” she said. “If you put two clinical psychologists in a room for eight hours, in [Medicare] The billing rate is $120 an hour – which isn’t what people charge, they charge $200 to $300 – you have an expensive treat. I think it can go up [than $25,000].
“No matter how you look at it, it’s going to take time away from other therapies and it’s going to cost a whole bunch of money. It’s not clear who will foot the bill, and some organizations are trying to create charitable funding,” Bede added. Early stages at least.