Quick Hits: Psychedelic Ecstasy Eyed for PTSD, Ibuprofen May Raise Blood Pressure, and More

The psychedelic MDMA, better known as the party drug ecstasy, could become a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)after the FDA acknowledged MDMA may have therapeutic value. The agency has granted MDMA breakthrough therapy designation, an acknowledgment that the drug could provide significantly better results in treating PTSD than existing treatments. It also means that the FDA will assist researchers in accelerating the development and review of MDMA for PTSD. The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) and the FDA have also agreed on the design of 2 Phase 3 trials investigating MDMA in conjunction with psychotherapy. The trials will enroll 200-300 people with severe PTSD and compare 2 groups over a 12-week period: 1 will receive 3 administrations of MDMA as an adjunct to psychotherapeutic techniques; the other a placebo with psychotherapy. MAPS’ own prior studies showed that after 3 MDMA-assisted psychotherapy sessions, 61% of participants no longer classified as having PTSD and after 12 months, 68% didn’t have PTSD. Posted August 26, 2017. Via MAPS.
The popular over-the-counter pain reliever Advil (ibuprofen) may increase blood pressure in patients with arthritis compared to the prescription analgesic Celebrex (celecoxib). Researchers also found that ibuprofen may possibly increase the risk of cardiovascular disease in those with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. In a study comparing ibuprofen, Celebrex and Aleve (naproxen), results published in the European Heart Journal showed that the average blood pressure of those given Celebrex decreased by 0.3 mmHg over 24 hours. However, ibuprofen and naproxen increased blood pressure by 3.7 and 1.6 mmHg, respectively. Researchers also found that the percentage of patients with normal blood pressure who developed high blood pressure after taking one of the pain medications was 23% for ibuprofen, 19% for naproxen and 10% for celecoxib. All 3 of the meds are known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Celebrex is also known as a COX-2 inhibitor, the same drug class as Vioxx (rofecoxib), which was pulled from the market in 2004 amid cardiovascular concerns. And a study published last year found that patients who had taken any of the 3 drugs had the same rate of heart disease, heart attack or stroke from taking it. Posted August 28, 2017. Via European Heart Journal/Science Daily.

Women taking oral contraceptives may have a decreased risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Researchers in Sweden compared 2,641 women with rheumatoid arthritis to 4,251 healthy women who served as the control group. Results, published in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, showed that the women who had taken oral contraceptives – birth control pills – over an average of 7 years were 15% less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis compared to those who had never used oral contraceptives. Although the study results reflect a positive relationship between birth control pills and lower RA risk, researchers caution that taking the pills just for RA prevention would be a mistake. Lead author Cecilia Orellana, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, told The New York Times, “We are not recommending you start them as a preventive. We can’t overlook the other potential side effects of the drugs on other conditions.” Posted August 23, 2017. Via Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

Alanna M.

Alanna M. is a graduate of Pace University.

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