These have been momentous days in our world. We are experiencing a long-overdue transformation in global consciousness, a growing awareness of the systemic racial injustices, and disparities that permeate our culture. The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) and the Psychedelic Science Funders Collaborative (PSFC) stand in solidarity with people collectively raising their voices to assert that Black lives matter. We recognize that this is not merely a moment, but a sustained movement that must reshape our society.
For 34 years, MAPS has worked to develop a more effective treatment for trauma, and every day the need for an effective treatment becomes clearer. On the June 12, 2020, episode of The Tim Ferriss Show podcast, author and entrepreneur Tim Ferriss announced the Capstone Challenge, a $10 million, 90-day challenge grant to complete the funding needed for MAPS to finish Phase 3 trials to make MDMA-assisted psychotherapy a legal prescription treatment for PTSD in the U.S., Canada, and Israel; and prepare to provide access to care for patients.
The announcement was made alongside an interview with MAPS Founder and Executive Director Rick Doblin, Ph.D., recorded in May. Ferriss explained the goal of the Capstone Challenge: Raising $10 million by September 10 will unlock a $10 million challenge grant organized by Ferriss and PSFC.
Combined with $10 million already raised, this would complete the $30 million Capstone Campaign to make MDMA a medicine. The Capstone Campaign was launched in March 2020 by MAPS and PSFC.
Ferriss himself committed the first $1 million for the Capstone Challenge match, and was joined by the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Foundation ($5 million), James Bailey ($1 million), Blake Mycoskie ($1 million), Peter Rahal ($1 million), and Anonymous ($1 million).
In the interview, Ferriss and Doblin discussed the highly encouraging results of an interim analysis of the data from MAPS’ first of two Phase 3 trials, announced last month, which showed 90% or greater probability that the study will show a statistically significant effect in treating PTSD. MAPS is on track to submit MDMA-assisted psychotherapy to the FDA for approval as soon as 2022.
Pharmaceutical development is rarely done within a non-profit/benefit corporation model. We have chosen this path because we fundamentally believe that access to psychedelic healing should not be constrained by pressures to maximize profit. We recognize we must better address the trauma caused by systemic racial inequities, and the barriers between people of color and effective mental health treatments.
Systemic racism and violence experienced by Black people every day and throughout history has caused intergenerational racial trauma, an unhealed wound that is once again rising to the country’s collective consciousness. This comes in the wake of the widespread trauma inflicted on sick patients, health care workers, and their families—disproportionately affecting people of color—during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ultimately, we believe that achieving FDA approval of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD could help millions of people who are suffering from trauma. We are proud and grateful for the opportunity to continue with that work, thanks to the generosity of those who are able to donate.