A widely reported study on the dangers of ecstasy use that was released last year was retracted last week by the researchers after it was discovered that study animals were given methamphetamine, not ecstasy, also known as MDMA. The study suggested that ecstasy, a club drug popular with gay men, can cause permanent brain damage and even hasten the development of Parkinson's Disease. Lead researcher George Ricaurte, from the Johns Hopkins Medical School, announced that the scientists administered the wrong drug to dozens of animals. "While it is unfortunate the labeling error occurred, this in no way undermines the results of numerous previous studies performed in multiple laboratories worldwide demonstrating the serotonin neurotoxic potential of recreational doses of MDMA in various animal species, including several primate species," according to a statement released by the researchers. The scientists wrote to the staff of the journal Science to retract their study originally published in the September 27, 2002, issue.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals contacted Johns Hopkins officials after the study was retracted and urged the scientists to forego additional ecstasy studies on animals. The organization also urged the university's president to fire Ricaurte if it is determined that the researcher is guilty of any ethics violations regarding the botched ecstasy study.