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Greenlit: Drugs Live: The Ecstasy Trial, Channel 4

Drugs Live: The Ecstasy Trial w/t (2  60′) – Volunteers will take MDMA, the pure form of Class A drug ecstasy, as part of a groundbreaking scientific study that is using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine the effects of MDMA on resting brain activity in healthy volunteers for the first time. Volunteers will take a 83mg dose of pharmaceutical grade MDMA (as well as a placebo) under laboratory conditions at Imperial College London, supervised by medical staff, before undergoing an fMRI brain scan and series of cognitive tests to examine MDMA’s effects on empathy, trust and memory.

The scientific study has been designed by two of the world’s leading experts on MDMA, psychopharmacologists Professor David Nutt of Imperial College London and Professor Val Curran of UCL (University College London). In addition to providing fundamental information on how MDMA affects the resting brain, results from the study might also inform future studies into whether the drug might be of potential clinical use. The study, which is funded by Channel 4, has been subject to an ethical approval process for research involving healthy volunteers, who were all screened by medics and psychiatrists before giving their fully-informed consent to take part. Professors Nutt and Curran retain control over the research, which they plan to submit for publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

The programmes will provide detailed analysis of the neurological and psychological effects of MDMA, the potential risks and consequences of taking the drug both in the short and long-term, and explore the new research into potential therapeutic benefits of MDMA. They aim to cut through the emotional debate surrounding the issue and accurately inform the public about the effects and potential risks of MDMA. The UK was dubbed the ‘drug-taking capital of Europe’ after a recent EU Drugs Agency report and nearly half a million British people are believed to take ecstasy every year.

Channel: Channel 4

Producer: Renegade Productions

TX: Autumn 2012

Source: Channel 4 press release

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