MDMA for PTSD: Promising Results in Phase 3 MAPS Clinical Trial

Written by Lydia Kariuki

In a “randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled” phase 3 clinical trial, 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) demonstrated higher efficacy in treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as compared to the mainstream pharmacotherapies sertraline and paroxetine. Such promising results demonstrate the potential of psychedelics as a breakthrough therapy for the millions of patients globally who suffer from PTSD and other forms of severe mental disorders.

Details of the Study

This study was sponsored by MAPS Public Benefit Corporation and the results published in Nature Medicine in May 2012. The aim of the study was to assess the safety and efficacy of MDMA-assisted therapy in severe PTSD. A total of 91 participants were eligible for the randomized study.

MDMA administered in three doses over a duration of 18 weeks significantly  improved PTSD symptoms and also the level of functionality. Patients on the MDMA arm also demonstrated a marked improvement in PTSD symptoms. Compared to placebo, MDMA did not trigger a significant increase in suicidal ideation.

MDMA, also known as Molly or Ecstacy, is a synthetic psychedelic drug that is commonly abused for its hallucinogenic properties. Interest in psychedelics have increased over the last couple of years as their therapeutic potential continues to emerge and challenge traditional pharmacotherapies especially in the field of mental health. Though it remains illegal, the FDA is currently evaluating the clinical potential of some psychedelics including MDMA. With FDA Breakthrough Therapy designation already granted for MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD, we can only expect more positivity from this latest study.

About the author

Lydia Kariuki