Ukrainian health ministry supports use of psychedelic-assisted therapy


The Ukrainian Ministry of Health (MoH) is supporting the future use of psychedelic-assisted therapy (PAT) in response to the mental disorders the nation is facing as a result of its prolonged war with Russia, which is negatively impacting Ukrainian civilians as well as military personnel.

Given the MoH’s understanding of the need to introduce such therapy and through the cooperation of a state institution subordinated to the MoH and its representatives in the public sector, an international scientific conference on PAT was held in Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv in May 2023. This conference brought together foreign and local experts who shared their experiences and research on psychedelic-assisted therapies.

Ukraine faces a huge challenge concerning mental disorders due to Russia's unprovoked invasion. According to the World Health Organisation, 25% of the Ukrainian population may suffer from war-related mental disorders and 57% are at risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

To meet this challenge, Ukraine must ensure that safe, efficient and well-regulated therapies are available to healthcare professionals. According to experts, one of the most promising solutions is PAT, which combines psychotherapy with the use of substances such as MDMA, psilocybin, and ketamine to facilitate recovery. 

Therapy based on ketamine is now available in Ukraine at one hospital. Ketamine-based PAT is allowed in Ukraine because (1) the substance is authorised for marketing as an anaesthetic, (2) off-label use of it, (3) following guidelines and protocols approved in other countries for administering ketamine. All other psychedelics widely used for PAT are currently banned in Ukraine due to their legal status as psychotropic substances, and are not permitted for medical use.

This facility operates under a combination of licences issued by the MOH and State Service of Medicines and Drug Control and administers ketamine off-label based on each patient’s consent.

The experts who attended the May 2023 PAT conference proposed the establishment of an interagency working group that will develop a conceptual framework for the broader introduction of PAT in Ukraine, the development of legislation that will regulate the use of psychedelics for medical and scientific purposes, and training of healthcare professional on PAT.
It is expected that this ongoing discussion on PAT will lead to a change in the regulatory environment and the practical implementation of these therapies in Ukraine.

For more details on PAT and Ukraine’s pharmaceutical and health care sector, contact your CMS client partner or local CMS experts: Borys Danevych, Anna Pogrebna.