Slate on MDMA Clinical Trials

February 8, 2007

The recent Slate article on the clinical trials which are trying to establish 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA for short, otherwise known as Ecstasy) as an FDA approved pharmaceutical is the usual media puff. Lately the media has been all on the side of the folks at MAPS who are convinced that MDMA is perfectly benign. What is fascinating is how intellectually similar the MAPS arguments are to those of the tobacco industry and the Bush administration on climate change. All three take advantage of the inherent uncertainty contained in the scientific process to misrepresent the available evidence. It is stone simple to argue that a given study has not “proved” a scientific point. Very few, if any, single studies can do so. So to isolate individual examples of supposed experimental flaws in a few key papers as evidence that an entire body of work is irrelevant to decide likely risks of MDMA (or smoking) to public health is intellectually dishonest. Advocates for the legalization of psychotropic drugs, whether from the personal use or clinical utility, are fans of the libertarian perspective of “let individuals make their own decisions” which is a nice principle. I’m a fan. But decisions should be made on the basis of the best possible information which, frankly, comes from the scientific community in this case.

6 Responses to “Slate on MDMA Clinical Trials”


  1. […] (MDMA, aka “Ecstasy”) for medical purposes. I’ve talked about the Slate and Time puff pieces on this before, and the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies […]

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  2. physioprof Says:

    “But decisions should be made on the basis of the best possible information which, frankly, comes from the scientific community in this case.”

    What is your take on the current consensus? I do remember some people getting seriously fucked up from “Ecstacy”, but my vague recollection is that it was due to impurities and not MDMA itself.

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  3. physioprof Says:

    Never mind. I see that is what your new post is about. I got messed up and clicked on the wrong post.

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  4. michael Says:

    If you chronically take valium, or xanax, or painkillers which are FDA approved you will sustain brain damage also. It’s about moderation, and the libertarian view is somewhat in existence in certain areas of north europe and it’s working fine.

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  5. drugmonkey Says:

    it is about therapeutic (or recreational) index. the distance between the therapeutic (or recreational) dose and the threshold(s) for toxicity. The index for Ecstasy is quite narrow.

    and it is not at all clear that it requires anything like chronic use, either. the animal models are a 4-day high dose regimen. that’s right, just four days to produce essentially permanent serotonin changes.

    but since you brought it up, what dose/regimen of valium or xanax produces essentially permanent alterations of an important brain system in animal models?

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