Dr. Bronner’s, the family-owned company that manufactures the popular natural brand of soaps, announced this week that it will donate a total of $5 million to a nonprofit organization that was just given a green light by the FDA to start Phase 3 drug trials of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy to treat treatment-resistant PTSD. Dr. Bronner’s will donate $1 million per year over the next five years to the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). The pledge to donate $5 million will accommodate approximately one-fifth of the $25 million budget created by MAPS in order to develop MDMA into an FDA-approved medicine.
“There is tremendous suffering and pain that the responsible integration of MDMA for treatment-resistant PTSD will alleviate and heal,” said David Bronner, the CEO of Dr. Bronner’s. “To help inspire our allies to close the funding gap, my family has pledged $1 million a year for five years—$5 million total—by far our largest gift to an NGO partner to date. In part, we were inspired by the incredible example of Ashawna Hailey, former MAPS Board member, who gave MAPS $5 million when she died in 2011.”
MAPS already completed a series of Phase 2 pilot studies, according to a Dr. Bronner’s press release. The studies that tested MDMA as a potential drug that could one day be used in conjunction with psychotherapy to treat PTSD laid the groundwork for two Phase 3 trials, Dr. Bronner’s reported.
“MAPS intends to use the income generated from selling MDMA once it’s an FDA-approved medicine to train therapists and set up treatment clinics around the world,” Dr. Rick Doblin, founder and executive director of MAPS, said. “Investment into making MDMA a legal medicine will turn MAPS into a self-sustaining organism, exponentially increasing our ability to heal suffering in the world.”
MAPS was founded in 1986 and is a 501(c)(3) non-profit research and educational organization.
“Our larger goal is to see psychedelic medicine responsibly integrated into American and global culture, readily available to those who need it most, while helping the rest of us open our hearts and minds to each other and to the miraculous living world we live within,” Doblin and Bronner declared in a joint statement.
Two years ago, the Huffington Post reported that MDMA-assisted psychotherapy could be a legal reality by 2021.
“Here’s how it works: MDMA is an empathogen, which means it stimulates areas of the brain associated with feelings of love, connection and empathy. When used under the guidance of trained clinicians, it can allow patients with PTSD to explore traumatic memories in a safe, nonthreatening way.”
Remarkably, in an early trial, the results of which can be found published online in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, 83 percent of PTSD patients were free of their PTSD symptoms after just two sessions of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy.
“There were no drug-related serious adverse events, adverse neurocognitive effects or clinically significant blood pressure increases. MDMA-assisted psychotherapy can be administered to posttraumatic stress disorder patients without evidence of harm, and it may be useful in patients refractory to other treatments.”
A feature article published in the Guardian gave a personal account of the possible effects of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy.
“Alice’s recovery was astonishing. The gold-standard assessment tool for this kind of trauma is the clinician-administered PTSD scale, or Caps, which uses a lengthy questionnaire to determine the severity of a patient’s symptoms (sample question: have there been times when you felt emotionally numb or had trouble experiencing feelings like love or happiness?). Any score over 60 is ‘severe’. Alice’s score went from 106 to two. It’s now at zero. In other words, her PTSD is gone.”
According to Doblin, getting the drug approved for use in psychotherapy isn’t the end of its work. The organization will also have to train “a whole new generation of therapists,” according to the Huffington Post. Training for MDMA/PTSD psychotherapists already began, and plans are in the works for MDMA-assisted psychotherapy clinics, Doblin told the Huffington Post.
“What we’re talking about with these psychedelic clinics is the model of the hospice center. In 1974 the first hospice was built, and today there are 3,500 in America. After the FDA approval, we anticipate that the next decade will see the rollout of these clinics.”
Don’t forget to share this article with people you know who suffer from PTSD and might benefit from knowing about the MDMA-assisted psychotherapy on the horizon.
[Featured Image by Ted S. Warren/AP Images]