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Australia’s future doctors call for new approach to minimise harm from illicit drug use: push for research into pill testing.

24 Jan 2019

Following the spate of recent deaths at music festivals across the country, Australia’s medical students are highlighting the need for a new tack to prevent harm from recreational substance use.

ABC Radio National recently hosted a panel discussing pill testing with Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) President, Jessica Yang, alongside former Australian Federal Police commissioner Mick Palmer, and ACT Liberal MLA Jeremy Hanson.

“The Australian Medical Students’ Association supports public health policy around illicit drug use which is evidence-based, including research into the efficacy of novel harm minimisation techniques, such as pill testing,” Ms Yang said.

“The current system clearly isn’t working.

“Medical students advocate for reframing recreational drug use as a health issue, rather than a criminal one. Use of illicit substances and the associated consequences is an issue we see on medical placements, in the community, and in emergency departments.

“There needs to be ongoing, meaningful support for national drug prevention programs and relevant education. This includes facilitating the distribution of resources to best minimise the harm we are currently seeing.”

AMSA, the peak representative body for Australia’s 17,000 medical students, stands with the Australian Medical Association, the Royal Australian College of Physicians, the National Australian Pharmacy Students’ Association (NAPSA), and numerous other student health organisations in advocating for new approaches to an ongoing problem.

NAPSA President, Jess Hsiao said: “NAPSA strongly urges the national government to take action on pill testing by approving trials as an approach to harm minimisation.”

“As future health professionals, this is an issue that is already affecting our future patients,” Ms Yang stated.


Media contact

AMSA 2019 Public Relations Officer

Madeleine Goss


P: 0405164671

Published: 24 Jan 2019