PRESS RELEASE: Mercer Family Foundation Grants $1 Million to MAPS for PTSD Research in Veterans
• New York philanthropist Rebekah Mercer to help complete funding for Phase 3 clinical trials of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD
• MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD has received Breakthrough Therapy Designation from the FDA
New York, NY—Today, the Mercer Family Foundation, founded by the family of Robert Mercer, hedge fund executive, and his daughter Rebekah Mercer, announced that it will make a $1 million contribution to the non-profit Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS).
The purpose of the grant is to help complete funding for MAPS’ upcoming Phase 3 clinical trials of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for the treatment of chronic, severe posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The grant is restricted to costs associated with study participants who are American military veterans.
“America’s veterans deserve the very best care,” says Rebekah Mercer. “Current treatments for PTSD are helpful for many veterans but leave too many still suffering. MAPS is on the cutting edge of scientific research with their decades-long campaign to make MDMA-assisted psychotherapy a legal treatment for PTSD. We hope that MDMA-assisted psychotherapy will soon be widely available to veterans and millions of others suffering from PTSD.”
Brigadier General (ret.) Loree Sutton, MD, Commissioner for New York City’s Department of Veterans’ Services (DVS), commented, “The Mercer Family Foundation deserves the thanks of our veterans and others who suffer from PTSD for supporting research into this potential breakthrough therapy. When it comes to the health and well-being of those who serve, we should leave our politics at the door and follow the data wherever it leads. There’s now an evidence base for MDMA-assisted psychotherapy and a plausible explanation about what may be going on in the brain to account for the therapeutic effects.” Sutton, a retired Army psychiatrist who designed and directed the Department of Defense’s Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury from 2007 to 2010, is currently launching VetsThriveNYC, under the auspices of First Lady Chirlane McCray’s pioneering mental health initiative ThriveNYC, whose guiding principles have now been adopted by CitiesThrive, a national coalition of over 200 cities.
“With this gift, the Mercers are on the forefront of scientifically rigorous medical innovation,” says Rick Doblin, Ph.D., founder and executive director of MAPS. “Their leadership shows that finding effective PTSD treatments is a matter of importance for individuals across the political spectrum. We’re inspired and deeply grateful to the Mercer Family Foundation for their commitment to America’s veterans and to the field of psychedelic science. They are to be commended for their gift.”
On August 15, 2017, based on the results of MAPS’ Phase 2 trials, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation to MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD, acknowledging that it “may demonstrate substantial improvement over existing therapies” and agreeing to expedite its development and review.
MAPS estimates that Phase 3 trials will cost a total of $26 million, and has already raised over $21 million. Thanks to grants such as that provided by the Mercer Family Foundation, MAPS will soon have the necessary funding to complete the pivotal Phase 3 trials.
Phase 3 clinical trials of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD will begin in the summer of 2018, and will enroll 200-300 participants across 16 sites in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. Provided the Phase 3 trials demonstrate statistically significant efficacy and an acceptable safety profile, FDA approval is expected by 2021.
With an average of 20 veterans committing suicide every day, there is an urgent need for more effective treatments for PTSD. As of June 30, 2016, over 868,000 veterans were receiving disability payments from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for PTSD, with an estimated cost of over $17 billion per year.
Founded in 1986, MAPS is a 501(c)(3) non-profit research and educational organization that develops medical, legal, and cultural contexts for people to benefit from the careful uses of psychedelics and marijuana. Since its founding, MAPS has raised over $47 million for psychedelic therapy and medical marijuana research and education. For more information, visit maps.org.
MAPS-sponsored clinical trials are conducted by the MAPS Public Benefit Corporation (MPBC), a wholly owned subsidiary of MAPS formed in 2015 for the special purpose of balancing social benefits with income from legal sales of MDMA, other psychedelics, and marijuana. For more information, visit mapsbcorp.com.