Clinical MDMA Brief (28 Nov 2009)

Nov 28 2009 Published by under MDMA, Public Health

A recent bit in the Vancouver Courier touts another clinical trial for MDMA as adjunctive therapy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. If you haven't been following along some of my prior observations are here, here, here. If you want everything I've opined on this drug, click the MDMA link under the archive.
I was just talking about main stream media accounts and how they generate an inaccurate impression by making comments that are, in isolation, more or less true but add up to an incorrect impression. In this case it was two quotes from the psychiatrist in charge of the Vancouver clinical trial.

Pacey says widely reported studies on the damaging effects of ecstasy involved giving massive doses of the drugs to rats. She said some reported results were later retracted.

Yes, well I've dealt with the "massive dose" issue in the past. This is an absolute classic on the part of the pro-MDMA folks, both recreational fans and these clinical trial people. There are two misdirections here. First, the issue of species scaling and the fact that smaller species (like rats) tend to metabolize drugs faster than do humans on, say, a milligram of drug per kilogram of bodyweight basis. Second, that people take lots and lots of drug and you will go broke in short order suggesting that "noone does that much".
As I've mentioned in the past, I've also been following the recommended clinical dosing which seems to trend ever upwards and fails to account for the range of bodyweights in their test subjects. Me, I assume their smallest person is going to be about a 50 kg (110 lb) individual and that therefore their mg/kg understanding of what the clinical dose really is should recognize this.
The retraction thing is the classic ad hominem. It has to do with the infamous retraction of Ricaurte's 2002 Science paper which purported to find novel neurotoxic effects on the dopamine system. This has absolutely nothing to say about all of the work conducted for years prior to this which outlined the classic serotonin depletion effect of repeated MDMA. An effect which has been endlessly replicated in rat and also in multiple nonhuman primate species. There is some, not perfect but decent, evidence for similar effects in humans (which is impressive given the diversity of total drug exposure and MDMA exposure in particular). Most of what the advocate's favorite bad guy Ricaurte contributed, in broad strokes anyway, has been replicated in other labs. So trolling this "retracted" comment out there is essentially a lie. It uses a true statement because Ricaurte had to retract a couple of other papers in the aftermath of the Science debacle..but it is nevertheless a lie in this context.

3 responses so far

  • Mr. Gunn says:

    OK, so there's a little spin on both sides of the issue, right? There's a little spin on both sides of the climate issue and the abortion and evolution "issues" too. The missing piece of information here is the relative size and authority of each side, right?
    Surely the debate isn't over whether there should be MDMA clinical trials or not, but rather how the studies should be conducted.

  • SurgPA says:

    Don't discount "a little spin." Spin is what's used to justify one's actions when one's best efforts at sound argument fail. Remember the silver tubes and the Iraq War? Personally, if I hear someone make assertions that I know are patently false AND that person should know better (ie probably does)it calls into question all their subsequent credibility.
    DM - have you ever been tempted to call out the doctor, say in a letter to the editor of the Vancouver Courier?

  • DrugMonkey says:

    have you ever been tempted to call out the doctor, say in a letter to the editor of the Vancouver Courier?
    ummm...it'll come to you in a minute....

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