Clinical trials exploring how MDMA, ketamine and psilocybin can be used therapeutically for mental health conditions will be backed by Federal Government funding to the tune of $15m.
Health Minister Greg Hunt announced the competitive grant on Wednesday, saying it’d support Australian research into how psychedelic substances (used in controlled environments under professional care) can help treat PTSD, major depressive disorder, addiction disorders and eating disorders.
“The early results of trials in Australia and internationally are extremely encouraging, but more research is desperately needed,” said Mr Hunt.
The Health Department noted that the effectiveness of available treatments is pretty varied, and that there’d been hardly any new pharmaceutical discoveries for mental illness treatment in recent years.
The funding comes weeks after the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) knocked back an application from Mind Medicine Australia to reclassify MDMA and psilocybin, so they could be accessed more easily by mental health professionals.
At the time, the TGA acknowledged there was emerging evidence to support using these substances therapeutically, but more study in clinical trials and training for therapists was needed.
The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) and a number of other peak bodies also said they were keen for more research and training in their submissions to the TGA.
The RANZCP welcomed today’s grant announcement.
“Trials like these will hopefully improve our knowledge, providing the evidence-based research to comprehensively assess the efficacy, safety and effectiveness of psychedelic therapies to inform future potential use in psychiatric practice,” said RANZCP President, Associate Professor John Allan.