Two University of Wollongong academics have urged all governments to use pill testing as a harm reduction strategy against drugs.
"Despite harm reduction being a major focus, pill-testing, which fits clearly within the scope of the harm reduction pillar, is not currently being considered by Australian governments," Dr Jody Morgan and Professor Alison Jones wrote in a Perspective published online by the Medical Journal of Australia.
The Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute members' report followed a review they did on available pill-testing methods to determine what a best practice pill-testing system might look like if one was to be employed in Australia.
"The main outcome from that was that any pill testing process here really needs to involve a face to face interaction between a health care provider or a drug and alcohol councillor and the patron using the pill testing facility," Dr Morgan told the Mercury.
"We would also like to talk about the disposal system.
"Any best practice system should also have a no questions asked disposal service available so if the patient wishes to dispose of the pills, they are able to do so, no questions asked and no police intervention."
The duo also stated that arguments against pill-testing can be addressed by "a well-designed system that focuses on incorporating accurate pill-testing as a single component in a larger harm reduction strategy".
Dr Morgan stressed health care practitioners will never tell their patients elicit drugs are safe to take.
"In fact, as Dr David Caldicott, who was involved in Australia's pill-testing trials in 2018 and 2019, has explained, the exact opposite is true, with all patrons informed at every step of the process that no amount of illicit drug consumption is safe."
The duo also wrote that almost three quarters of surveyed music festival attendees at a recent Australian event reported drug taking, compared with 28.2 per cent of the general young adult population.
For 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA; commonly known as ecstasy) this was as high as 59.8 per cent, compared with 7 per cent.
"The 2019 Global Drug Survey identified Australia as the country with the highest number of MDMA pills consumed on a single occasion (average, 2.0 pills v global average, 1.0 pills).
"Supporting this, a survey of Australian music festival attendees found that almost half of 777 respondents taking ecstasy pills reported simultaneous consumption of two ecstasy pills."
Global statistics show 2.3 per cent of Australian users seek medical attention following MDMA use compared with a global average of 1 per cent.