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Does ‘Club Drug’ Ecstasy Have Therapeutic Value?


1 Star


Does ‘Club Drug’ Ecstasy Have Therapeutic Value?

Our Review Summary

The story is based on an early basic science study, evaluating the short-term effects of Ecstasy.  But the story reports this very limited preliminary finding as if there were therapeutic meaning – even raising possible therapeutic value in the headline.


Why This Matters

MDMA is not to be taken lightly.  Yet this story had an inadequate discussion of potential harms – and never firmly established benefits.  How could you, after all, in a study of 21 healthy volunteers, only some of whom took the drug in question?


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

No mention of costs. What would be the cost of overcoming “trouble connecting with others socially”?

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

What does it mean to suggest that the drug “significantly increase feelings of loving, friendliness and playfulness”?

How was this measured?

Did it occur in everyone?

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The story said that the drug “might impair a person’s perceptive abilities and thus prompt risk-taking.”  Is that the only known risk of taking MDMA?

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Not Satisfactory

There was no discussion of the limitations of drawing any conclusions from such a study in just 21 volunteers who were healthy. The conclusions are based on response to a single dose of the drug in a laboratory environment based on interactions with a research assistant and completion of questionnaires. It is a limited basic science study.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Not Satisfactory

There is no discussion of whether problems connecting with others socially is a disease that must be treated. This is a major issue. First, are we talking about social awkwardness or social phobia? There is a real danger of medicalizing a non-medical problem. Second, the study was done in NORMAL VOLUNTEERS. The idea of improving peoples’ ability to connect socially is SPECULATION.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Not Satisfactory

There was no truly independent source quoted.  The only quote coming from anyone outside the current research team came from a researcher who also reported on MDMA research months ago.

What about the observation of someone who does not have a dog in the hunt?

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

There was no discussion of other alternative approaches to help people socialize.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

The story states that “MDMA is part of a family of so-called “club drugs,” which are popular with some teens and young at all night dances or “raves.”

But it doesn’t tell readers anything about whether this is MDMA’s only use, and how it might be made available/distributed.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


The story at least referred to an earlier study published in July on MDMA in PTSD.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Not Applicable

We can’t be sure of the extent to which this story may have been influenced by a news release.

Total Score: 1 of 9 Satisfactory


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