New Drug Could Prevent Meth and MDMA-Induced Deaths

By May Wilkerson 03/31/16

The new drug will essentially act like an ice pack for the brain to prevent ecstasy-induced hyperthermia.

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New Drug Could Prevent Meth and MDMA-Induced Deaths
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MDMA (aka ecstasy or Molly) and meth are staples at many electronic music festivals like the Electric Zoo and the Electric Daisy Carnival. And it’s not uncommon to see people leave one of these events on a stretcher. This is because these drugs, when taken in an environment where people are often crowded together, sweaty and dehydrated from hours of dancing, can lead to a condition called ecstasy-induced hyperthermia. Many festivals have cooling stations with fans, mist and bottled water. But now, a new injectable drug is being developed that could help treat the condition, preventing ER visits and even death, Inverse reports.

Ryanodex is an injectable drug developed by Eagle Pharmaceuticals, Inc., which essentially acts like an ice pack for the brain, reverting the brain and body’s temperature to normal levels. The National Institutes of Health and the National Institute on Drug Abuse recently agreed to begin preclinical tests on the drug’s ability to treat brain overheating caused specifically by MDMA and meth.

In 2011, 125,000 people landed in the ER with the condition after taking either of these drugs. Taking MDMA or meth causes the temperature of the body and the brain to spike. Too much, especially when combined with intense exercise (dancing) in a crowded space in the heat of summer (when these festivals usually take place), can lead to brain hyperthermia.

Both MDMA and meth mess with the body’s ability to regulate temperature. If untreated, this can cause cells in the liver, kidney, and heart to burn out and die and, in severe cases, it can be fatal.

The heat triggered by these drugs can cause the body to reach “the kind of temperatures that there’s no other way to describe it other than it will melt your organs and do damage to your organs to the point you will die,” said one ER director.

This summer, the first round of tests on Ryanodex will be conducted using an animal model. If the results are positive, human clinical trials could begin as early as next year. In the meantime, it should fall on festival organizers to provide more cooling stations and medical personnel to help prevent tragedies like the Molly-induced death at New York's Electric Zoo music festival in 2013.

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.

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