FDA approves more trials for prescription ecstasy

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    America is in the midst of shifting its attitudes toward the use of marijuana for medical purposes and it’s possible MDMA is poised to follow suit. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just approved Phase III clinical trials for MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. Phase III is the final step in clinical trials before the drug can be approved for commercial use as a prescription. The move means the primary ingredient in the party pill known as ecstasy and molly could legally enter the market by 2021, the New York Times reported.

    MDMA is known to create a euphoric feeling of trust and happiness. Trials are focused on combat veterans, sexual assault victims, and officers and firefighters suffering from symptoms of PTSD as it helps them confront their past traumas with a new perspective.

    On average, victims had been suffering from symptoms for 17 years and traditional therapy and medication didn’t prove effective. But adding MDMA doses into the therapy sessions reduced PTSD symptoms and had long-lasting wellness benefits for most patients involved.

    One subject describes the effect as one that brought hope: “I was stuck in an unhappy place. This study changed all that and gave me the possibility of a different outcome. The journey has been difficult and I remain far from any perceived resolution but the possibility is there.”

    Phase III trials will include 230 patients and is sponsored by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), an organization that advocates for the medical use of various psychedelics.

    The drug works by causing your brain to release the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Serotonin regulates our mood and releasing it in such massive amounts basically kicks our feelings of happiness into overdrive. But the drawback is the potential for abuse and the chemical’s long-term detrimental effects on the brain. Overuse can leave people with symptoms of depression, impaired memory, and stunted attention spans.

    MDMA’s clinical trials are just one push forward for a select few drugs with a bad reputation now being reevaluated for their utility in medicine. Medical marijuana had a notably big win on election night November 8th when California, Massachusetts, and Nevada all passed legalization measures. For years, it’s been gaining ground as an effective and safer alternative to opioid painkillers with virtually no danger of addiction.

    Meanwhile, magic mushrooms are making their own resurgence among scientists. Two studies released in the Journal of Psychopharmacology and reported by the New York Times looked at magic mushroom’s effect helping cancer patients grapple with symptoms of depression and alleviating feelings of anxiety while they battled disease.

    While these drugs may be most loved today among the drum circle community, they are proving they have serious medical value that warrants a second reckoning.

    Kelly Paik
    Kelly Paik writes about science and technology for Fanvive. When she's not catching up on the latest innovations, she uses her free-time painting and roaming to places with languages she can't speak. Because she rather enjoys fumbling through cities and picking things on the menu through a process of eeny meeny miny moe.