Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs

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Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs
Abbreviation ISCD
Formation January 15, 2010; 7 years ago (2010-01-15)
Key people
Dima Abdulrahim, Roland Archer, Simon Brandt, Eric Carlin, Val Curran, Colin Drummond, Simon Elliott, Barry Everitt, Martin Frisher, Patrick Hargreaves, Graeme Henderson, John Marsden, Fiona Measham, David Nutt, Rhys Ponton, Ian Ragan, John Ramsey, Penny Schofield, Ilina Singh, Polly Taylor, Tim Williams
Formerly called
Independent Council on Drug Harms (ICDH)

The Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs (originally called The Independent Council on Drug Harms (ICDH)) is a UK-based drugs advisory committee proposed and initially funded by then-32-year-old hedge fund manager Toby Jackson.[1][2] It is chaired by Professor David Nutt and was officially launched on 15 January 2010 with the help of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies. The primary aim of the committee is to review and investigate the scientific evidence of drug harms without the political interference that could result from government affiliation.[1][3][4][5]

The establishment of the committee followed the controversial sacking of Professor Nutt, on 30 October 2009 as chair of the UK's statutory Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs by UK Home Secretary, Alan Johnson after the Equasy controversy.[6][7] The controversy followed his Eve Saville Memorial Lecture (2009) at the Centre.[8]

At the time the group was launched, it was reported that its likely top priorities would include downgrading the current official risk estimates for psychedelic drugs, ecstasy and cannabis, and increasing warnings of the dangers of ketamine.[2][edit]

The ISCD's website publishes information on drugs and drug harms to educators, academics, and the general public.[9]

Drugs Live[edit]

Drugs Live: the ecstasy trial is a two-part TV documentary aired on Channel 4 on the 26th and 27 September 2012. The program showed an fMRI study on the effects of MDMA (ecstasy) on the brain, which was funded by Channel 4. Main researchers on the study were ISCD member Val Curran and ISCD Chair David Nutt who also appeared as guests on the show. Curran and Nutt oversaw research at Imperial College London, in which volunteers took part in a double blind study, taking either 83 mg of MDMA or a placebo before going into the fMRI scanner.

The documentary was presented by Christian Jessen and Jon Snow, and included debate on the harms of MDMA, as well as exhibiting the findings of the study. Some participants in the study also appeared on the show, including a vicar, an ex-soldier, writer Lionel Shriver, actor Keith Allen and former Liberal Democrat MP Evan Harris.

Nutt and colleagues have said they are preparing to run the UK's first clinical trial of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for the treatment of PTSD, based on the research from the study.[10]

ISCD Publications[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Sacked scientist promises impartial drugs advice The New Scientist, January 2010
  2. ^ a b Jack, Andrew (16 January 2010). "Hedge fund chief backs drugs panel". Financial Times. Archived from the original on 2010-07-12. Retrieved 16 January 2010. 
  3. ^ David Nutt (2010-01-15). "The best scientific advice on drugs". The Guardian. London. Retrieved April 2, 2010. 
  4. ^ Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs Homepage
  5. ^ Nutt, D. J.; King, L. A.; Phillips, L. D. (2010). "Drug harms in the UK: a multicriteria decision analysis". The Lancet. 376 (9752): 1558–1565. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(10)61462-6. PMID 21036393. Lay summaryBBC (1 November 2010). 
  6. ^ Nutt, D. (2008). "Equasy -- an overlooked addiction with implications for the current debate on drug harms". Journal of Psychopharmacology. 23 (1): 3–5. doi:10.1177/0269881108099672. PMID 19158127. 
  7. ^ "Support the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs". The center for crime and justice studies. January 15, 2010. Retrieved April 3, 2010. 
  8. ^ David Nutt on The Life Scientific with Jim Al-Khalili, September 2012, BBC Radio 4
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Drugs Live: The Ecstasy Trial. Presenting original research on Channel 4 : Scientific progress, and a televisual first". The Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs. 27 October. Retrieved 2014-02-26.  Check date values in: |date= (help)