I was disappointed to read misleading information in the November 7, 2005 Firing Line letter from William Robins, titled, “The harm of Ecstasy,” especially since the author criticizes a column by Ryan and Elliot Ash for “ignorant bias” and “propaganda.” Mr. Robins mentions the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS, www.maps.org), a non-profit research and educational organization that I founded and direct. According to Mr. Robins, in 1999 the FDA rejected a MAPS-sponsored protocol testing MDMA, the molecule that Ecstasy is supposed to contain but often doesn’t. Not true. In 1999, FDA indicated a willingness in principle to approve a study of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in cancer patients with anxiety. No actual protocol was submitted for FDA to either accept or reject. On November 2, 2001, FDA approved a MAPS-sponsored study of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in subjects with treatment-resistant posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). That study is underway and generating excellent results. On December 17, 2004, FDA approved a MAPS-sponsored study of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in subjects with anxiety associated with advanced-stage cancer. DEA, for political reasons, has delayed approving that study but we expect approval very soon. I agree with Mr. Robins that readers should “trust the FDA over “Psychedelic Studies.” “
MDMA does have potential risks, as do all drugs and all activities, and also benefits. To get past the propaganda about MDMA that Mr. Robins claims to disapprove of while engaging in it himself, see www.maps.org/mdma. As the parent of three pre-teens, I fear propaganda and prohibition more than MDMA.
Rick Doblin, Ph.D.