The UK Government's chief drug advisor has condemned television Channel 4 for its live experiment on the effects of taking the drug MDMA, which took place over the previous two nights on British television. Almost 2 million people tuned into the first night of the program, which saw people from a variety of backgrounds try the euphoria-inducing substance; the popularity in the show has led to Professor Les Iversen, who is chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, to question its value.
In a letter to the British newspaper the Daily Telegraph, he wrote: "While I am strongly in favour of scientific research on both legal and illegal drugs, I have to question whether this project has any real "research" value." He added: "Viewers were repeatedly told this was ground-breaking research that had never been done before. However, a search of the scientific literature reveals that there have been no fewer than 68 human studies of ecstasy using brain-imaging techniques. Twelve of there were published in the past 12 months - and they include reports of effects of ecstasy on the hippocampus and forebrain, as described in the programme."
Iversen went on to warn: "The dressing up of the Channel 4 project as 'research' is flimsy, and there is a danger that such programmes may glamorise drug-taking as a form of entertainment."