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MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy for Anxiety Associated With a Life-Threatening Illness

The safety and scientific validity of this study is the responsibility of the study sponsor and investigators. Listing a study does not mean it has been evaluated by the U.S. Federal Government. Read our disclaimer for details.
 
ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT02427568
Recruitment Status : Completed
First Posted : April 28, 2015
Results First Posted : August 2, 2021
Last Update Posted : July 6, 2022
Sponsor:
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies

Brief Summary:
This Phase 2 pilot study is a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study in 18 participants comparing the effects of MDMA-assisted therapy vs. placebo with therapy. Thirteen participants were randomized to the active dose condition of 125 mg of MDMA (plus an optional supplemental dose of 62.5 mg MDMA) with therapy and five participants were randomized to the placebo with therapy condition. The study will consist of two blinded experimental sessions of MDMA-assisted therapy or placebo with therapy, each session lasting six to eight hours and scheduled two to four weeks apart. Each participant will be unblinded one month after their second experimental session in Stage 1. After unblinding, participants receiving placebo will have the opportunity to cross over to open-label Stage 2 and receive active MDMA. Only subjects who receive active dose MDMA will complete an optional third open-label experimental session.

Condition or disease Intervention/treatment Phase
Anxiety Drug: MDMA (125 mg) Drug: Placebo Behavioral: Therapy Phase 2

Detailed Description:

Individuals facing, or who have faced, a life-threatening illness contend with more than just the physical symptoms of their condition and may experience anxiety, depression, anger, and despair that can exacerbate their distress. Research suggests that diagnosis of, and living with a life-threatening illness can result in symptoms similar to those seen in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

3,-4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) is a monoamine releaser with a unique pharmacological profile that include decreased feelings of fear, increased positive mood and increased interpersonal trust. Findings from clinical trials in people with PTSD and anecdotal reports suggest that MDMA-assisted psychotherapy may assist people who have anxiety related to having a life-threatening illness.

This Phase 2 pilot study is a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study in 18 participants comparing the effects of MDMA-assisted therapy vs. placebo with therapy. Thirteen participants were randomized to the active dose condition of 125 mg of MDMA (plus an optional supplemental dose of 62.5 mg MDMA) with therapy and five participants were randomized to the placebo with therapy condition. The study will consist of two blinded experimental sessions of MDMA-assisted therapy or placebo with therapy, each session lasting six to eight hours and scheduled two to four weeks apart. Each participant will be unblinded one month after their second experimental session in Stage 1. After unblinding, participants receiving MDMA will complete a third open-label experimental session of MDMA-assisted therapy and participants who originally received placebo will have the opportunity to cross over to open-label Stage 2 and receive active MDMA-assisted therapy in 3 sessions.

The primary objective of the study is to assess changes in trait anxiety in subjects receiving active dose MDMA compared to those receiving placebo as measured by State-Trait Anxiety Index (STAI) Trait scores from Baseline to the Primary Endpoint (one month after the second experimental session).

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Study Type : Interventional  (Clinical Trial)
Actual Enrollment : 18 participants
Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: Quadruple (Participant, Care Provider, Investigator, Outcomes Assessor)
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Phase 2 Pilot Study of MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy for Anxiety Associated With a Life-Threatening Illness
Actual Study Start Date : April 2015
Actual Primary Completion Date : May 2018
Actual Study Completion Date : July 2018

Resource links provided by the National Library of Medicine

MedlinePlus related topics: Anxiety

Arm Intervention/treatment
Placebo Comparator: Placebo with therapy
Inactive placebo administered on 2 blinded experimental sessions scheduled 2 to 4 weeks apart. Initial dose possibly followed 1.5 to 2.5 hours later by (optional) inactive placebo supplemental dose.
Drug: Placebo
Two sessions of placebo (with therapy) lasting six to eight hours, scheduled two to four weeks apart.
Other Name: Inactive placebo

Behavioral: Therapy
Non-directive therapy

Active Comparator: MDMA-assisted therapy (125 mg)
125 mg 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) administered on 2 blinded experimental sessions scheduled 2 to 4 weeks apart. Initial dose possibly followed 1.5 to 2.5 hours later by a (optional) supplemental dose of 62.5 mg MDMA.
Drug: MDMA (125 mg)
Two sessions of MDMA (with therapy) lasting six to eight hours, scheduled two to four weeks apart.
Other Name: 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine

Behavioral: Therapy
Non-directive therapy




Primary Outcome Measures :
  1. Change in State Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) Trait Score From Baseline to Primary Endpoint [ Time Frame: Baseline (3 months from enrollment) to Primary Endpoint (one month post-2nd experimental session) ]

    The State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) is a 20-item self-report measure of intensity of anxiety. Each item consists of a 4-point Likert rating scale ranging from 1 ('Not at all') to 4 ('Very Much So'), with higher scores indicating greater anxiety. Items were summed for a total score that ranged from 20 to 80.

    The STAI differentiates between State Anxiety, defined as "anxiety experienced in reaction to a specific environmental circumstance," and Trait Anxiety, defined as "long-standing nervous affect or anxiety disorder." The use of the trait subscale as the primary outcome measure was intended to target those anxiety symptoms that are chronic and pervasive.


  2. Baseline STAI Trait Score [ Time Frame: 3 months post-enrollment ]

    The State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) is a 20-item self-report measure of intensity of anxiety. Each item consists of a 4-point Likert rating scale ranging from 1 ('Not at all') to 4 ('Very Much So'), with higher scores indicating greater anxiety. Items were summed for a total score that ranged from 20 to 80.

    The STAI differentiates between State Anxiety, defined as "anxiety experienced in reaction to a specific environmental circumstance," and Trait Anxiety, defined as "long-standing nervous affect or anxiety disorder." The use of the trait subscale as the primary outcome measure is intended to target those anxiety symptoms that are chronic and pervasive.


  3. Primary Endpoint STAI Trait Score [ Time Frame: One month post-2nd experimental session ]

    The State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) is a 20-item self-report measure of intensity of anxiety. Each item consists of a 4-point Likert rating scale ranging from 1 ('Not at all') to 4 ('Very Much So'), with higher scores indicating greater anxiety. Items were summed for a total score that ranged from 20 to 80.

    The STAI differentiates between State Anxiety, defined as "anxiety experienced in reaction to a specific environmental circumstance," and Trait Anxiety, defined as "long-standing nervous affect or anxiety disorder." The use of the trait subscale as the primary outcome measure is intended to target those anxiety symptoms that are chronic and pervasive.



Secondary Outcome Measures :
  1. Change in STAI State Score From Baseline to Primary Endpoint [ Time Frame: Baseline (3 months from enrollment) to Primary Endpoint (one month post-2nd experimental session) ]

    The state subscale of the STAI (STAI-S) is a 20-item self-reported scale which assesses subjects' levels of transient, situationally oriented, anxiety. Like the trait subscale, participants respond to each item on the state subscale by selecting a response from a 4-point Likert scale ranging from 4 ("Not at all") to 1 ("Very much so"), with higher scores indicating greater anxiety. Items were summed for a total score that ranged from 20 to 80.

    The STAI differentiates between State Anxiety, defined as "anxiety experienced in reaction to a specific environmental circumstance," and Trait Anxiety, defined as "long-standing nervous affect or anxiety disorder." The use of the trait subscale as the primary outcome measure is intended to target those anxiety symptoms that are chronic and pervasive.


  2. Change in Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II) Score From Baseline to Primary Endpoint [ Time Frame: Baseline (3 months from enrollment) to Primary Endpoint (one month post-2nd experimental session) ]
    The Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II) is a a 21-item self-reported measure of depression according to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV (DSM-IV) criteria. Each item is rated on a 4-point Likert scale ranging from 0 to 3. The total score is the sum of 21 items and range from 0 to 63. Score cutoffs indicate: 0-13 minimal depression, 14-19 mild depression, 20-28 moderate depression, and 29-63 severe depression. Higher scores indicate more severe depressive symptoms.

  3. Change in Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) Score From Baseline to Primary Endpoint [ Time Frame: Baseline (3 months from enrollment) to Primary Endpoint (one month post 2nd experimental session) ]
    The Global Assessment of Function (GAF) is a measure of a person's global social functioning made through clinical observation. The GAF consists of a single score, with scores ranging from 0 to 100, with 100 reflecting superior function and zero reflecting serious risk of causing harm to the self or others.

  4. Change in MADRS Score From Baseline to Primary Endpoint [ Time Frame: Baseline (3 months from enrollment) to Primary Endpoint (one month post-2nd experimental session) ]
    The Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) is a 10-item, clinician administered questionnaire used to diagnose the severity of depressive episodes. Each item has a score of 0 to 6. Overall scores are summed and range from 0 to 60. Score cutoffs indicate: 0-6 normal/symptom absent, 7-19 mild depression, 20-34 moderate depression, > 34 severe depression. Higher scores indicate greater severe depression.

  5. Change in Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Inventory (PSQI) From Baseline to Primary Endpoint [ Time Frame: Baseline (3 months from enrollment) to Primary Endpoint (one month post-2nd experimental session) ]
    The Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) is a measure of self-reported sleep quality over a one month period. It consists of 19 items with possible responses ranging from zero to four on a five-point scale. The PSQI consists of seven sub-scales: sleep quality, sleep latency, sleep duration, habitual sleep efficiency, sleep disturbance, use of sleeping medications, and daytime dysfunction. These are all summed to produce a single global scale. Global scores can range from 0 to 21, with higher scores reflecting poorer sleep quality, and a score below 5 indicating good sleep quality.

  6. Change in Posttraumatic Growth Inventory (PTGI) From Baseline to Primary Endpoint [ Time Frame: Baseline (3 months from enrollment) to Primary Endpoint (one month post-2nd experimental session) ]
    The Posttraumatic Growth Inventory (PTGI) is a 21-item self-report measure of perceived growth or benefits occurring after a traumatic event. It contains five subscales; relationship to others, new possibilities, personal strength, spiritual change, and appreciation of life. Questions are answered on a scale from 0 (I did not experience this change) to 5 (I experienced this change to a great degree). Items are added to calculate the total PTGI score which ranges from 0 to 105, with higher scores indicative of greater growth.

  7. Change in Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy Scale (FACIT) From Baseline to Primary Endpoint [ Time Frame: Baseline (3 months from enrollment) to Primary Endpoint (one month post-2nd experimental session) ]
    The Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy Scale (FACIT-Sp) is a 27-item self-report measure of quality of life issues specifically relevant to individuals with a chronic or life-threatening illness or condition. The core questionnaire consists of four subscales: Physical Well-being, Social/Family Well-being, Emotional Well-being, and Functional Well-being. Responses range from 0 (not at all) to 4 (very much), with higher scores indicating greater well-being. For each subscale, total scores were summed and range from 0 to 16.

  8. Change in Death Attitudes Profile (DAP) From Baseline to Primary Endpoint [ Time Frame: Baseline (3 months from enrollment) to Primary Endpoint (one month post-2nd experimental session) ]

    The Death Attitudes Profile (DAP) is a 32-item self-reported questionnaire that assesses individual attitudes and beliefs about death and dying. Each item on the scale is rated along a 7-point Likert scale ranging from "strongly disagree" (score of 1) to "strongly agree" (score of 7), with higher scores indicating more positive attitudes toward death.

    The DAP consists of 5 dimensions: fear of death (7 items summed with total scores ranging from 7 to 49), death avoidance (5 items summed with total scores ranging from 5 to 35), neutral acceptance (5 items summed with total scores ranging from 5 to 35), approach acceptance (10 items summed with total scores ranging from 10 to 70), and escape acceptance (5 items summed with total scores ranging from 5 to 35). For each dimension, a mean scale score can be computed by dividing the total scale score by the number of items forming each scale.


  9. Change in Self-Compassion Scale (SCS) From Baseline to Primary Endpoint [ Time Frame: Baseline (3 months from enrollment) to Primary Endpoint (one month post-2nd experimental session) ]

    The Self-Compassion Scale (SCS) is a 26-item self-reported questionnaire that assesses how respondents relate to themselves and treat themselves during difficult or painful experiences. Items are scored along a 5-point Likert-type scale ranging from 1 "almost never" to 5 "almost always." The SCS has six component (subscale) scores: self-kindness, self-judgment, common humanity, isolation, mindfulness, and over-identification. Subscale scores are calculated by computing the mean of subscale item responses.

    A total self-compassion score is calculated by the sum of the subscale scores and range from 24 to 120 with higher scores indicating greater self compassion. Higher scores have been found to correlate with positive mental health outcomes, as well as decreased depression and anxiety.




Information from the National Library of Medicine

Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contacts provided below. For general information, Learn About Clinical Studies.


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Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years and older   (Adult, Older Adult)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No
Criteria

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Diagnosed with life-threatening cancer or non-dementing neurological illness, which can be ongoing or in remission, but with a possibility of recurrence
  • Prognosis of at least nine months life expectancy from the time of screening
  • Have anxiety as a result of facing their illness
  • Are at least 18 years old
  • Are willing to refrain from taking any psychiatric medications during the study period;
  • Are willing to commit to medication dosing, experimental sessions, follow-up sessions, and to complete evaluation instruments
  • Are willing to remain overnight at the study site after each experimental session until after the integrative session occurring the next morning
  • Must sign a medical release for the investigators to communicate directly with their therapist and doctors;
  • Are willing to select up to three observers who will complete observer measures of subject attitudes and behavior
  • Negative pregnancy test if able to bear children and agree to use effective birth control
  • Are proficient in speaking and reading English
  • Agree to have all psychotherapy sessions recorded to audio/video.

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Are pregnant or nursing, or if a woman who can have children, those who are not practicing an effective means of birth control;
  • Weigh less than 48 kg
  • Are abusing illegal drugs
  • Are unable to give adequate informed consent
  • Upon review of past, current drugs/medication must not be on or have taken a medication that is exclusionary
  • Upon review of medical or psychiatric history must not have any current or past diagnosis that would be considered a risk to participation in the study

Information from the National Library of Medicine

To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contact information provided by the sponsor.

Please refer to this study by its ClinicalTrials.gov identifier (NCT number): NCT02427568


Locations
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United States, California
Offices of Philip Wolfson MD
San Anselmo, California, United States, 94960
Sponsors and Collaborators
Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies
Investigators
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Principal Investigator: Philip Wolfson, MD Private Practice
  Study Documents (Full-Text)

Documents provided by Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies:
Study Protocol  [PDF] April 29, 2015
Statistical Analysis Plan  [PDF] August 7, 2017
Informed Consent Form  [PDF] July 19, 2016

Publications of Results:
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Responsible Party: Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies
ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT02427568    
Other Study ID Numbers: MDA-1
First Posted: April 28, 2015    Key Record Dates
Results First Posted: August 2, 2021
Last Update Posted: July 6, 2022
Last Verified: June 2022
Individual Participant Data (IPD) Sharing Statement:
Plan to Share IPD: Yes
Plan Description: We will share outcome data appearing in any published reports upon request.
Supporting Materials: Study Protocol
Statistical Analysis Plan (SAP)
Informed Consent Form (ICF)
Time Frame: Data and study-related documents will be available when all participants have completed the study, and when data has been quality checked and locked.
Access Criteria: Interested persons should correspond with the central contact for the multisite study.

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Studies a U.S. FDA-regulated Device Product: No
Keywords provided by Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies:
Anxiety
MDMA
Life-threatening illness
Therapy
Additional relevant MeSH terms:
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Anxiety Disorders
Mental Disorders
N-Methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine
Hallucinogens
Physiological Effects of Drugs
Psychotropic Drugs
Serotonin Agents
Neurotransmitter Agents
Molecular Mechanisms of Pharmacological Action
Adrenergic Uptake Inhibitors
Neurotransmitter Uptake Inhibitors
Membrane Transport Modulators
Adrenergic Agents