The List Of Experts Saying We Need To Try Pill Testing Is Growing Longer And Longer
When will governments listen?
When rejecting the idea of pill testing, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian often tells people that “evidence” suggests it’s not the best idea. Today, the Royal Australasian College of Physicians has written an open letter to all state and territory governments saying that the medical evidence is clear, and it’s time for a pill testing trial.
The RACP is one of the top groups representing doctors in this country, and they’re not even the first to support a pill testing trial. They join the Australian Medical Association and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners in urging governments to work with medical professionals to implement pill testing trials.
In short, all of Australia’s top medical bodies are united on this issue: no one’s claiming that pill testing is a silver bullet, but they are all saying that we urgently need to give it a try.
“The RACP’s experts in addiction medicine and public health medicine believe the evidence currently available justifies the introduction of carefully designed pill testing trials in Australia,” Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones, the President of the RACP’s Chapter of Addiction Medicine, said.
“Ideally, we would all like young people and the wider public not to use drugs illicitly, however, the reality is that they do in large numbers and the moral message to abstain from taking drugs is not getting through.”
“The evidence to date shows that existing policies in place at festivals to discourage drug taking, including heavy police presence, sniffer dogs and searches, are not effective. These policies are failing our communities and our young people, leading to unnecessary deaths.”
The open letter goes on to make clear exactly what kind of pill testing the RACP supports, and it sounds like the kind of thing that even Gladys would be on board with if she took a minute to actually understand it.
“The RACP does not support the provision of do-it-yourself pill testing kits which may make unsubstantiated claims about their ability to detect harmful substances,” the letter explains.
Instead, it’s proposing that governments work with medical experts to provide pill testing stations at festivals, where clear medical advice is also available.
“It is important to acknowledge that pill testing technology has limitations, including that it currently cannot provide precise information on how much of any substance a pill contains. Nevertheless, pill testing facilities at festivals can identify lethal ingredients,” the letter explains.
“These facilities also offer an opportunity for medical professionals to provide trusted face-to-face advice to young people about the risks of drug taking. The advice provided does not claim any substances to be ‘safe’ and does not condone drug taking, it simply enables those who get their pills tested to make better informed decisions.”
That has the potential to be life-saving, if only governments would allow it.