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Under the microscope: MDMA

What is it MDMA?

To give it its full name – 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine. It’s a synthetic “party drug” that alters moods and perception. It rose to prominence as part of the nightclub and rave scene.

Under the microscope: Shutterstock


Why are we looking at it on these pages?

It has just passed one major hurdle on the path to being prescribed as a medicine in the US, after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted it a special designation that could fast-track its approval to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

What does that mean?

The designation involves recognising that it could have a meaningful advantage over existing treatments. It also moves it toward the final phase of medical trials that could lead to possible prescription use of the drug.

Is it dangerous?

DMA is a stimulant and a psychedelic, meaning it has both energy-raising and hallucinogenic properties. It has been known to be dangerous when used without medical supervision, as it raises body temperature and blood pressure.

What are its positives?

A number of clinical studies have shown that for those suffering from PTSD, where it’s difficult to deal with painful memories, MDMA can help them overcome traumas, long term.

What are the chances of it actually being approved?

Rick Doblin, Head of Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, says: “We’re on track for MDMA to be approved by the FDA by 2021. We are in a pretty good place for reaching this goal.”

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