The dangers of MDMA (ecstasy)

June 16, 2010, 12:10 am


Morbidity associated with MDMA (ecstasy) abuse: A survey of emergency department admissions. Halpern P et al.  Hum Exp Toxicol (OnlineFirst, published May 20, 2010)


Although ecstasy (MDMA) is often thought to be a safe recreational drug by young people who attend “rave” parties, decades of medical literature and clinical experience have proved that belief false — sometimes tragically so.  Given the recent MDMA-associated deaths after “rave” events in Los Angeles and San Francisco, I looked forward to reading this article from Israel. The authors surveyed ecstasy-related ED admissions at local hospitals from August 2002 to February 2003. The authors report lots of epidemiological data on the 52 patients they identified, very little of which seems really important.  Also, there are a number of crippling flaws in the study design.  For example, although the authors claim that the study was prospective, 18 patients (35%) were identified — apparently retrospectively — from the Israel Poison Information Center data base.  In addition, only slightly more than half the patients (29 of 52) had ecstasy confirmed on urine tests.  Important topic, but unfortunately not much to take home from this article.  It certainly not be news to anyone that MDMA can be dangerous.

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