Image by Joshua Earle

Pioneer Programme

 “To have the chance of a new life. To have a world where my PTSD is not as dominating as it is right now. To put the past into some sort of context and not be haunted by it every day, every moment in the future. What a wonderful gift that would be.”


For too many UK veterans, the real battle begins when they return home.

Nine per cent of ex-regular servicemen and women who had deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. For those whose last deployment was in combat role this rises to 17%.

PTSD can affect anyone. Within the civilian population the rate is 4.4%. Early evidence from the COVID-19 pandemic is showing that 20% of Intensive Care Unit survivors could develop this debilitating condition.

Sadly, existing therapies, like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, only offer a modest, 30% chance of success. Many veterans we know have tried every therapy and every possible medication. They have come too close to giving-up on ever finding a solution to the devastating effects of PTSD on their lives and their families.

Your support could be the answer to transforming their lives forever.

At SWV we know that veterans can embrace their full potential when they are free from the pain of physical and mental injuries.


Supported by NHS England, we are working with world-class researchers in this pioneering field at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College London and MAPS to deliver the UK’s first MDMA-assisted therapy trial committed to finding an effective treatment for the most severe PTSD.

“PTSD is a truly debilitating and life-threatening battle – defeating it requires innovation. Studies of MDMA-assisted therapy in the US are proving it to be dramatically more effective than other treatments at relieving the pain and removing the stigma of PTSD. We, and importantly, our veterans are convinced it merits further study and trial.


"Many of these veterans have made remarkable sacrifices on behalf of our country. This programme, driven by SWV, genuinely promises to make a difference to the lives of wounded veterans who deserve the chance to live normal lives.”


General Sir Nick Carter, SWV Patron and Chief of the Defence Staff

Why the Pioneer Programme?


Our UK research aims to:

  • Evaluate the effectiveness of MDMA-assisted therapy as a treatment for severe and chronic PTSD in UK veterans by conducting two clinical trials:

    • Phase 2 Lead-In study; and

    • Phase 3 Trial of MDMA-assisted therapy.


  • Replicate trials undertaken by MAPS in the US where Phase 3 trials are already demonstrating encouraging positive results, with MDMA-assisted therapy being designated a ‘Breakthrough Therapy’ by the FDA in 2017.


  • Contribute to a European study across six countries to secure regulatory approval (European Medicines Agency and MHRA) for a licence to be available for the treatment of all trauma survivors in the UK.

This treatment will only be available in countries where a MAPS trial has been delivered, making it vitally important that a trial takes place in the UK.

Due to the EMA data exclusivity regime, if this research is only undertaken overseas, UK veterans and all civilian trauma survivors will have to wait at least eight years for the treatment to be available in the UK.


The UK trial will make up 35% of the European study, giving the opportunity to put UK specific trial data in front of the MHRA to seek approval for therapeutic roll-out in the UK. With results expected to replicate the US, this trial will deliver a strong scientific case for this therapeutic approach.


What is MDMA-assisted therapy?

The story so far


The total cost to deliver the Phase 2 & Phase 3 Pioneer Programme in the UK is £1.5m.

To kick-start the programme, SWV has committed £100,000 to the fundraising appeal.

With thanks to our partners, including the NHS and MAPS, we have raised £775,000 of the £1.5m costs.

We are now seeking to raise the final £725,000 to commence the trial and pioneer this treatment for the benefit of all trauma survivors.

With 4.4% of the civilian population with PTSD in England, MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy will be a game-changer in this complex and difficult field, reducing the long-term, and repeated, costs of care for those with PTSD.

Once approved we expect this treatment to be available for c. £10,000 per patient. This makes it more cost-effective than existing, and often repeated, in-patient admissions at £25,000 for three months in addition to the societal costs associated with the illness.


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