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US Ecstasy study
retracted after drug mix-up
Mon Sep 8 2003
WASHINGTON (AFP) - A study that claimed regular users of the
drug Ecstasy run the risk of severe brain damage has been
retracted by its authors following a mix-up of their
The authors of the study published in September 2002 by the
journal Science claimed regular users of Ecstasy (MDMA) could
seriously damage the working functions of their brains.
However, in an embarrassing turnaround, the same authors said
Monday: "We write to retract our report...following our recent
discovery that the drug used to treat all but one animal in
that report came from a bottle that contained methamphetamine
instead of the intended drug (Ecstasy)."
The retraction is due to be published in Science on September
The experts said they reached their findings by using a bottle
of methamphetamine when they thought the bottle had contained
They discovered their mistake when they tried to obtain the
same results with different samples of actual Ecstasy.
The study was originally conducted at Johns Hopkins
University, and it described the grave damage and irreversable
effects that Ecstasy use could have on the brain.
The authors had also claimed in their now-retracted findings,
that regular Ecstasy use could lead to the similar effects as
Parkinson's disease (news - web sites).
In their retraction, the authors reaffirmed nonetheless that
"this apparent labelling error does not call into question the
results of multiple previous studies demonstrating the
serotonin neurotoxic potential of MDMA (Ecstasy) in various
animal species, including several nonhuman primate species."
"Moreover...some humans with a history of MDMA abuse have
developed Parkinsonism," the authors stressed.
Ecstasy, commonly taken by clubbers in the form of a small
pill, is favored by ravers because its makes them more
energetic and excited, and gives them greater euphoric
However, the highs experienced by Ecstasy or MDMA users can
sometimes be followed by bouts of depression.