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MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy Projected to Be More Cost-Effective in Treating PTSD

October 27, 2020

A MAPS study released this week estimates that public healthcare payers or private insurers making MDMA-assisted psychotherapy available to 1,000 patients for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder would cut healthcare costs by $103.2 million over 30 years.

The study was published by the research journal PLOS ONE.

The study was constructed using a decision-analytic Markov model to portray the costs and health benefits of treating patients with chronic, severe or extreme, treatment-resistant PTSD by using MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. The therapy consisted of an average of 2 ½ 90-minute trauma-focused therapy sessions, then two 8-hour sessions with MDMA (average dose 125 mg), and finally an average of 3 ½ integration sessions for each active session. A control group received a placebo or 25 to 40 mg of MDMA. Efficacy was measured based on results from six randomized controlled Phase 2 trials with 105 subjects, as well as a follow-up with 19 subjects four years later.

Modeling results over a 30-year projection, the study found that for 1,000 individuals, MDMA-assisted psychotherapy generated a net savings of $103.2 million and added 5,553 quality-adjusted life-years. Costs of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy would break even at 3.1 years.

In a news release announcing the findings, lead author Elliot Marseille, DrPH, MPP, described the estimates as “promising, yet likely too conservative.”

“The study did not measure the value of increased productivity or lower disability payments as patients recover and is constrained by the limited data on the long-term trajectory of PTSD,” Marseille said, adding that additional research was needed to determine the benefits of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD.

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