Psychiatrist Ben Sessa, M.D., writes to The Telegraph to discuss the contributions made by Professor Andy Parrott about MDMA research on UK Channel 4’s “Drugs Live: The Ecstasy Trial.” For Dr. Sessa, there is already ample scientific evidence that the benefits of pure MDMA in controlled settings for therapeutic purposes outweighs the risks.
SIR – I was staggered to hear that Professor Andy C Parrott (Letters, October 8) felt he was not given adequate airtime to express his opinions on Channel Four’s Drugs Live programme. I believe he was given too much exposure.
I am planning Britain’s first clinical study looking at using MDMA-assisted psychotherapy to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I was in the audience at Drugs Live, invited on the show to discuss my project. But I was never spoken to as the presenters repeatedly went back to Prof Parrott for his opinion about “the dangers of Ecstasy”. Perhaps Channel 4 was anxious about appearing soft on drugs.
Prof Parrott looks at recreational Ecstasy users and describes minute, sub-clinical neurocognitive changes in his subjects. Those of us who work with patients know that despite 25 years of Ecstasy use in Britain, with some 30 million doses of Ecstasy taken recreationally every year, the levels of mortality and morbidity from this drug remain very low indeed. The massive epidemic of casualties we were promised back in 1988 simply has not happened.
Prof Parrott demonises the medicine MDMA because he sees – quite rightly – that the illegal drug Ecstasy has its risks. But recreational Ecstasy is not the same thing as clinical MDMA. Clinical MDMA, carefully prescribed under supervised conditions, could alter the course of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – a disorder that is desperately in need of novel and creative approaches to treatment.