He vigorously defends his work, saying much of it has been confirmed by other researchers, and arguing that he is often unfairly attacked by scientists who minimize the dangers of designer drugs because they want to use them in research. '' The institution has every confidence in his ability,'' said Gary Stevenson, a spokesman. Ricaurte ''made an honest mistake, then discovered it and revealed it.'' But other scientists, and two human research subjects of Dr. Ricaurte has produced studies saying the amphetamine analogs may cause the tremors of Parkinsonism, depression and memory and sleep problems. At the time, he said, he was using large amounts of Ecstasy, marijuana, LSD, cocaine, amphetamines and heroin.Ricaurte's who came forward after the retraction, say they see a pattern of shaky research supporting alarmist press releases. But the consensus among many amphetamine researchers, Dr. After seeing the retraction of the primate study, he contacted The Times, and persuaded a friend who had accompanied him to call, too.The available evidence shows that MDMA can cause psychosis, hyperthermia and even death in some people who take the drug recreationally.But there is no research to indicate whether or not this will be a problem in the controlled settings of a clinical trial, or whether such controlled administration might result in long-term brain damage.
The labels on two vials he bought in 2000, he said, were somehow switched.On the other side of the debate, MDMA's supporters claim that the drug is a potentially valuable therapeutic aid with little risk of causing lasting brain damage.They argue that studies showing that MDMA leads to cognitive deficiencies are procedurally flawed, and that there is no proof that a few doses of the drug will cause harm.But in this case, both sides in the debate would benefit by taking a step back and re-focusing their work.MDMA's detractors in particular would be wise to study the more immediate and realistic side effects of the drug, such as its interactions with other drugs of abuse, and the processes whereby it can sometimes lead to life-threatening hyperthermia.The problem corrupted four other studies in his lab, forcing him to withdraw four other papers. Ricaurte's lab was accused of using flawed studies to suggest that recreational drugs are highly dangerous.In previous years he was accused of publicizing doubtful results without checking them, and was criticized for research that contributed to a government campaign suggesting that Ecstasy made ''holes in the brain.'' Dr.This more reflective approach would help researchers learn more about the origins of and responses to the frightening side effects that sometimes occur when users take MDMA as a recreational drug.This would surely be a better way of ensuring that safe treatments reach the patients who need them.Opponents of the trials say that the trials' organizers are playing with fire by introducing potentially toxic substances into perhaps unstable people. The truth is that there is a shortage of scientific logic on both sides of the MDMA debate.Those who demonize the drug are so convinced of its deadly nature that, when Johns Hopkins researcher George Ricaurte reported that even a single dose of MDMA causes debilitating, Parkinson's-like disease in monkeys (G. Science 297, 2260–2263; 2002), the paper was widely touted as proof that MDMA was fatally toxic.