Israel Approves Clinical Trial to Treat PTSD with MDMA

DAILY DOSE | Ecstasy is a famous party drug, most commonly associated with nightclubs and raves rather than a doctor’s office — but that could change.

MDMA is the main drug ingredient that makes up ecstasy. It has shown promising results in regulated doses for treating patients from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. There have been clinical trials around the world, especially in the United States. In Israel, it is still classified as a ‘dangerous drug’ and its therapeutic use is banned.

That may soon change as the Health Ministry has approved a first of its kind trial that will allow Israeli doctors to administer MDMA to dozens of patients. The Israeli Health Ministry Psychological Trauma Unit’s Bella Ben Gershon discusses with host Jeff Smith.

The drug works by saturating the brain with serotonin, the chemical associated with happiness known to fill recreational users with feelings of euphoria and energy.

The decision to administer the study comes after Israel’s health ministry confidentially sent a representative to study the drug in the United States with the California-based Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS).

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found the use of MDMA to be a ‘breakthrough’ treatment in 2017, expediting the process of its approval that would come in 2021 if all goes to plan.

Through its upcoming clinical trial, Israel could find itself ahead of the pack, similar to its allowance of marijuana for medicinal use, which continues to find approval throughout the world.

‘We are preparing the ground,’ Haaretz quoted Dr. Keren Sarfati, the representative of MAPS in Israel leading its research on the use of MDMA.

‘If we see positive results in the third stage and the FDA in fact approves the treatment in another two years, we want to have treatment centers and caregivers ready so we can start immediately. It’s so urgent because of the major suffering that post-trauma victims experience — suffering that can also lead to suicide — and at the moment, they have no remedy,’ Dr. Sarfati said.

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