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Clinical Trials Update
July 27, 2021

MDMA-Assisted Therapy Highly Effective for PTSD

JAMA. 2021;326(4):299. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.11748

Supportive therapy together with 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)—also known as the recreational drug ecstasy—significantly reduced severe posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms in a phase 3 multisite clinical trial. MDMA-assisted therapy has the “potential to dramatically transform treatment for PTSD,” the researchers wrote in Nature Medicine.

The trial’s 90 participants were randomly assigned to supportive therapy plus 80 to 180 mg of MDMA or placebo administered in 3 supervised sessions. At 18 weeks, MDMA significantly reduced PTSD symptoms, including among participants with comorbidities associated with treatment resistance, such as alcohol and substance use disorders, childhood trauma, and dissociation. In the MDMA group, 67% of participants no longer met the diagnostic criteria for PTSD compared with 32% of the placebo group.

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