VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WVEC) -- Fundraising is almost complete for an FDA trial treatment that is giving veterans suffering from PTSD new hope. The next phase of the study into how a popular club drug can be used to treat the disorder is set to begin this Spring, and one local Congressman is voicing his support.
"We owe it to this population to see it through."
That's the word from Congressman Scott Taylor, after seeing a 13News Now investigation about a study that uses MDMA -- more commonly known as ecstasy -- to treat PTSD.
Many veterans in Hampton Roads could understand Sgt. Jonathan Lubecky's pain. The Marine Corps and Army veteran tried to take his own life five times. But it's the relief he's experienced, that is not common.
“I literally went from being in a mental health facility ... to working on a presidential campaign on the national level,” Lubecky told us.
According to Lubecky, that transformation is only because he participated in the initial phases of the FDA trial, which studies how MDMA-assisted psychotherapy can treat PTSD.
“The things that our society and our government asks us to do are pretty horrid,” Lubecky explained. “When you go overseas and you touch evil, some of it sticks to you and we need help when we get back to clean that out. This is a treatment that works.”
He traveled to Washington to convince lawmakers to support the idea. Rep. Scott Taylor's staff was on his schedule.
“They were amazed at the results and his testimony,” Taylor said. “It's powerful.”
For the former Navy SEAL, this is personal.
“I think about folks that I know that have PTSD. Then I think about the big problem we have certainly in our area, of course, with so many veterans who have gone back and forth, over and over again, and seen some real trauma,” Taylor lamented.
In the initial phases of the clinical trial, about 65 of 107 patients no longer registered on the PTSD scale, which adds up to more than 60 percent of participants.
“Them being able to be cured... not simply just treated, if you will, but actually potentially be cured... well, these are incredible results that should not be ignored,” Taylor said.
The FDA has fast-tracked the work, but even so, it could be years before approval. That means it could be years until all veterans can have access to the treatment.
“You have to have rigorous testing on people, so I understand that,” Taylor said. “At the same time, there're certainly ways I believe, not just with this application but others, as well, that government sort of drags their feet.”
Taylor believes the results warrant more study, as long as the MDMA is given in a controlled environment. MAPS, the nonprofit leading the trial, is getting ready to enroll 200 to 300 more people.
The organization just announced they're only about $500,000 short of the total needed for the next phase.
“A lot of folks in Hampton Roads, just like myself, have dealt with friends or family who have committed suicide,” Taylor added. “We have an obligation as a nation for these folks who have shouldered this burden over the last 16 years and counting to be able to do whatever we can to help make them whole again.”
More information on how to apply to participate in the next phase of the trial is available on the MAPS website.