A charitable foundation established by billionaire New York Mets owner Steve Cohen and his wife just donated millions of dollars to help convince the feds to legalize MDMA.
The Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation just awarded a $5 million grant to the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelics Studies (MAPS), a nonprofit that has been researching the therapeutic use of psychedelics since 1986. In a recent press release, MAPS explains that it will use this grant to help fund “the final stages of the drug development process for MDMA-assisted therapy for the treatment of PTSD.”
After ignoring the promise of psychedelic medicine for decades, the US FDA finally granted MDMA “Breakthrough Therapy” status in 2017. This process allowed MAPS and other research groups to fast-track clinical trials that could lead to its eventual legalization. In its most recent Phase III trial, MAPS researchers found that MDMA therapy was 90% effective at reducing symptoms of PTSD.
MAPS is now planning to submit a New Drug Application for MDMA-assisted PTSD therapy to the FDA later this year. If the feds approve the application, licensed physicians will legally be allowed to administer MDMA to PTSD patients in the context of therapy. MAPS warns that the initial cost of these treatments may block most people from actually accessing this new medicine, however.
Legal MDMA therapy centers could end up charging patients thousands of dollars for a single session, just like Oregon’s first legal psilocybin clinics do. And since traditional health insurance companies will likely refuse to cover the costs of MDMA therapy, at least at first, PTSD patients will be forced to cough up the dough themselves. So in order to help expand access to this novel therapy, MAPS plans to use the Cohen foundation's grant to establish a financial assistance program for eligible patients.
“We extend tremendous gratitude to the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation for their unwavering support in helping us bring MDMA-assisted therapy through the pipeline and toward potential FDA approval,” said MAPS founder and president Rick Doblin, Ph.D., in a press release. “Our hearts are uplifted by their commitment to equitable access— a crucial element for us to try to bring healing for all.”
The Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation has donated over $741 million to American nonprofit organizations over the past twenty years. Most of these grants focus on supporting traditional philanthropic causes like healthcare, underserved communities, and sustainability, but the foundation is actually one of the country's largest private funders of psychedelic research. The group's Psychedelic Research & Health Initiative has donated $60 million to psychedelic research nonprofits, and $10 million of that total has gone directly to MAPS.
“Millions of Americans, including our veterans and first responders, suffer from PTSD and other mental health conditions that affect their quality of life,” said Alex Cohen, the foundation's president, in a statement. “Psychedelic compounds represent a new opportunity to address these often treatment-resistant conditions and bring hope to patients.”