This newsletter reports on the MAPS pharmacologically-assisted psychotherapy conference which was recently held in Bern, Switzerland from November 28 to December 1,1990. Your support of MAPS enabled us to gather together psychiatrists, psychologists and researchers from the US, the USSR, Switzerland, Germany, and Czechoslovakia to discuss past studies and future research possibilities. The conference was successful beyond the expectations of most participants, myself included. Participants were left with a sense of optimism that has not existed for many years, which this newsletter explains. Your membership in MAPS was an essential element in making the conference a reality, and the following report will bring you up to date on the latest developments.
The primary outcome of the conference was a decision of psychiatrists from the US and USSR to work together to develop a protocol to research the use of MDMA in the psychotherapeutic treatment of patients with terminal illness.
A goal established at the conference was to work towards the development of a protocol that would be submitted to health authorities in both the US and the USSR. Such a protocol would be designed to gather scientific data both about the benefits to patients of such a treatment and about the physical risks, including neurotoxicity. It is hoped that researchers from other countries, particularly Czechoslovakia, will also seek to participate in this research effort.
If the protocol is scientifically rigorous, it very possibly will gain the support of regulators. The possibility of FDA approval of an MDMA protocol has never been better, particularly if the FDA decides to give written approval, as they indicated they might, to a protocol investigating the use of LSD to treat substances abusers.
The conference sought to find a research protocol acceptable to both the advocates of the psychotherapeutic use of MDMA and the MDMA neurotoxicity researchers. The patient population and dose schedule was specifically chosen both to minimize the risks of MDMA neurotoxicity and maximize the likelihood of demonstrable therapeutic benefits.
The development of this protocol offers an excellent opportunity to move beyond the five year long prohibition of the scientific use of MDMA in humans. Your past financial support of MAPS enabled us to organize the conference. Future support will permit us to move forward with research.