MDMA For PTSD Therapy Enters Final Round of Trials, Could Be Approved In U.S. and Canada By 2021

published on January 21, 2018 by Lauren Gill in Newsweek

The final round of clinical trials for MDMA assisted psychotherapy is kicking off in Vancouver, leading the way for Canada and the United States to approve the drug for therapeutic use as early as 2021.

The third and final phrase of trials gets underway after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) designated MDMA as a “breakthrough therapy” for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in August 2017, ensuring that it will work with advocates to complete the last phase quickly.

Traditional PTSD treatments can last years or as long as a lifetime and focus on desensitization, which can cause pain. Even more, just 10 to 15 percent of people actually recover, and there’s a high drop-out rate, Mark Haden a public health professor at the University of British Columbia told Canada’s CTV News. On the other hand, MDMA-assisted therapy usually lasts fewer than four months and two-thirds of participants didn’t have PTSD one year after treatment, he told the news outlet.

The therapy consists of three eight hour sessions in which the participant takes MDMA, and 12 sessions without the drug. The entire process spans three-and-a-half months.

 MDMA could be approved for therapy as early as 2021. Getty

MDMA, or 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine, is an empathogen, meaning that it stimulates togetherness and trust among users. It also inhibits activity in the brain that treats fear and stimulates hormones that make people feel more connected. While some may refer to MDMA and ecstasy interchangeably, MDMA is the pure form of the drug, while ecstasy can be cut with unknown adulterants.

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