Controversy over new Channel 4 ecstasy show

Posted: September 18, 2012 in Drugs, Media, Science, TV, UK

Channel 4 are to finally air their controversial new series Drugs Live: The Ecstasy Trial, in which actor and musician Keith Allen will be joined by author Lionel Shriver, as well as a former MP and a female member of the clergy in becoming the subject of experiments in which they take MDMA, the pure form of ecstasy, under controlled medical conditions.

Julia Manning, chief executive of independent think-tank 2020 Health, has criticised the show, claiming it will “celebritise” illegal substances. But Val Curran, professor of psychology at University College London, who co-designed the study with former government drugs adviser Professor David Nutt, who was sacked for after claiming ecstasy was less dangerous than alcohol, says adamantly that the study was a legitimate scientific trial.

“We’re not interested in sensationalism. We’re just interested in the potential clinical benefits of these things,” she said. “We were interested in this because we’re very concerned that MDMA has the potential to be an important therapeutic tool. We were trying to understand the brain mechanisms around that – we wanted to study the brain basis of that.”


Professor Curran said that depression could be the most common disease in the world by 2030. “It’s a huge problem and a third of people don’t respond to available antidepressants.”

Channel 4’s David Glover has defended the programme, saying it was “a brave and radical piece of television. “Obviously we don’t want to be part of glamorising drug use.. The programmes will be about really rather sophisticated science.”

Drugs Live: The Ecstasy Trial will air on Channel 4 on Wednesday 26th September at 10pm


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