Study Initiation Visits Begin for Phase 3 Trials of MDMA-Assisted Therapy for PTSD

On Thursday, April 26, 2018, Rebecca Matthews, Clinical Operations Manager of the MAPS Public Benefit Corporation (MPBC), traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana, to conduct the first Study Initiation Visit for the Phase 3 trial of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). After the New Orleans Phase 3 site was initiated, researchers completed Study Initiation Visits at planned Phase 3 sites in Fort Collins and Boulder, Colorado.

MPBC clinical research staff have completed 13 of 14 Study Initiation Visits for our open-label lead-in study of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at planned Phase 3 sites across the United States and Canada. The purpose of this study is to provide the final training for our co-therapy teams.

The Phase 3 trials starting in the summer of 2018 will assess the efficacy and safety of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in adult participants with PTSD at sites in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. Over a 12-week treatment period, participants will be randomized to receive 12 associated 90-minute non-drug preparatory and integration sessions along with three day-long sessions about a month apart of either MDMA or placebo in conjunction with psychotherapy. The primary endpoint will be the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS-5), as assessed by a blinded pool of independent raters.

The trials are the final phase of research required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before deciding whether to approve MDMA as a legal prescription treatment for PTSD, required to be used in conjunction with psychotherapy in an outpatient setting with a residential stay.

On July 28, 2017, MAPS and the FDA reached agreement on the design of our Phase 3 trials after a six-month long Special Protocol Assessment (SPA) process. This agreement confirms that the protocol design, clinical endpoints, planned conduct, and statistical analyses for the Phase 3 trial are acceptable to support regulatory approval by the FDA.

On August 15, 2017, the FDA granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation (BTD) to MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for the treatment of PTSD. FDA rejects about two-thirds of applications for BTD. The FDA grants this designation for treatments that (1) are intended alone or in combination with one or more other drugs to treat a serious or life-threatening disease or condition; and (2) preliminary clinical evidence indicates may demonstrate substantial improvement over existing therapies. BTD also means that the FDA will work closely with MAPS to conduct the development program as efficiently as possible and to plan ahead of time regarding issues of commercialization should Phase 3 studies prove successful.

MAPS and MPBC staff are excited to reach this milestone toward bringing healing to those diagnosed with PTSD through MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. Donations are currently being sought to reach MAPS’ goal of raising $26.7 million to successfully execute the Phase 3 studies required to gain approval from the FDA for MDMA-assisted psychotherapy by 2021. With $26.2 million in hand or in multi-year pledges, there’s still a funding gap we need to close. Approval from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) will likely require additional funds. MAPS began negotiations with EMA in January 2018, and MAPS staff will likely travel to London, United Kingdom, to meet with EMA in June 2018. Learn more…

There is now a clear path ahead to make MDMA a legal medicine for millions of people suffering from PTSD. Help us heal trauma: