As a nurse, you probably keep tabs on the latest drugs being used to treat patients. But did you know that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a large-scale clinical trial that would allow the drug MDMA to be used in psychotherapy? After passing Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the clinical trials, MDMA is on track to become a prescription medicine by 2021. As a larger-scale trial, Phase 3 will be sponsored by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) and will involve 230 patients or more.
For years, researchers have been investigating the benefits and impacts of offering MDMA-assisted psychotherapy to PTSD patients. According to studies, MDMA is highly effective at healing emotional and psychological trauma caused by serving in wars, sexual assault, and other types of trauma. The green light to proceed with a larger-scale trial brings us one step closer to being able to better treat some of the most troubled patients.
Understandably, this news has thrilled researchers and therapists who specialize in psychiatry and who examine the effects of PTSD. In response to the news, Charles Marmar, head of psychiatry at New York University’s Langone School of Medicine and a leading PTSD researcher, said: “I’m cautious but hopeful.” He added, “If they can keep getting good results, it will be of great use. PTSD can be very hard to treat. Our best therapies right now don’t help 30 to 40 percent of people. So we need more options.”
However, even if Phase 3 of the trial is a success, it doesn’t mean the drug will start appearing on pharmacy shelves. Instead, it would start off being used in controlled, supervised settings and would only be prescribed by highly trained professionals as part of psychotherapy treatment for PTSD symptoms.