MDMA (3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine) was first synthesised in 1912 by chemists at the pharmaceutical company, Merck in Germany. In 1985, MDMA was placed in schedule 1, resulting in no research being conducted into the potential therapeutic applications of MDMA between 1985 – 2000. However, since then, MDMA has been included in over 5000 academic articles and administered to over 1100 human volunteers.
MDMA is currently experiencing a scientific resurgence. The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) has sponsored 12 completed clinical trials globally, investigating MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD, anxiety related to advanced-stage illness, social anxiety in autistic adults, and an ongoing study of healthy subjects via the MDMA therapist training program, with plans for additional studies of MDMA therapy for race-based trauma and transgendered people as well.
As future doctors, it is important that medical students are aware of the benefits and potential harms of MDMA. These slide sets will enable future doctors to provide patients with valuable information and help support them in their decisions about their treatment plan. Medical students will also be in a position to help make real change to policy by helping to gather patient data and help provide unbiased information about the benefits and potential harms of MDMA.
Module 1 – History & Current Law
Module 1 focuses on the historical use of MDMA, internationally and in the UK. This includes a chronological look at the prohibition of MDMA, it’s use recreationally and why it was banned in the first place. Module 1 will also examine the current legal status of MDMA internationally, the potential harms of this drug and the ways to mitigate those harms. MDMA studies are underwritten by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classification of Breakthrough Therapy status, potentially resulting in FDA and European Medicines Agency (EMA) approval of MDMA-assisted therapy for clinical implementation in the USA and the EU. Our goal in this module is to educate medical students on this substance to prepare them for the integration of this substance into western medicine.
Module 2 – Pharmacology
Module 2 takes a deep dive into the neurology and pharmacology that underpins MDMA. This slide set explains how MDMA operates in the human body, its interactions with the brain, the biosynthesis process and metabolism. Understanding the psychoactive properties and physiological effects of MDMA is vitally important for medical students regardless of this drug’s legal status. MDMA has therapeutic applications but it also has associated risks and adverse events, being aware of all of these relevant factors will help inform the next generation of psychotherapists and researchers.
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