Plagiarism by British Drug Tsar

Leslie Iversen, a retired Oxford professor of pharmacology, is Chair of the British government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society, a foreign associate of the National Academy of Sciences, and chairman of the board and director of Acadia Pharmaceuticals, San Diego.

In 2008, Oxford University Press published a book by Iversen called Speed, Ecstasy, Ritalin: The Science of Amphetamines. Four passages in it are very close to a website about MDMA (Ecstasy). The duplicated material was on the website in 2002.

Iversen (p. 151): MDMA was profiled by the San Francisco Chronicle as ‘The Yuppie Psychedelic’ (10 June 1984). In Newsweek, J Adler (‘High on “Ecstasy”‘, 15 April 1985) likened his MDMA experience to ‘a year of therapy in two hours'”. Harpers Bazaar described MDMA as ‘the hottest thing in the continuing search for happiness through chemistry’. Unsurprisingly, MDMA use soon spread beyond the couch and clinic to the wider world. MDMA’s now universal brand-name, “ecstasy”, was coined in 1981 by a member of a Los Angeles distribution network. The unnamed distributor apparently chose the name “ecstasy” because ‘it would sell better than calling it “Empathy”. “Empathy” would be more appropriate, but how many people know what it means?” (Eisner 1989). Condemned by purists as a cynical marketing ploy, the brand-name ‘ecstasy’ isn’t wholly misleading (ecstasy: “an overpowering emotion or exaltation; a state of sudden intense feeling. Rapturous delight. The frenzy of poetic inspiration. Mental transport or rapture from the contemplation of divine things’ (Oxford English Dictionary)). Many first-time MDMA users do indeed become ecstatic. Some people report feeling truly well for the first time in their lives.

Website: MDMA was profiled by the San Francisco Chronicle as “The Yuppie Psychedelic” (10 June 1984). In Newsweek, J Adler [“High on ‘Ecstasy”, April 15 1985] likened his MDMA experience to “a year of therapy in two hours”. Harpers Bazaar described MDMA as “the hottest thing in the continuing search for happiness through chemistry”. Unsurprisingly, MDMA use soon spread beyond the couch and clinic to the wider world. MDMA’s now universal brand-name, “Ecstasy”, was coined in 1981 by a member of a Los Angeles distribution network. The unnamed distributor, quoted in Bruce Eisner’s Ecstasy: The MDMA Story (1989), apparently chose the name “Ecstasy” because “it would sell better than calling it ‘Empathy’. ‘Empathy’ would be more appropriate, but how many people know what it means?” Condemned by purists as a cynical marketing ploy, the brand-name “Ecstasy” isn’t wholly misleading [ecstasy: “an overpowering emotion or exaltation; a state of sudden intense feeling. Rapturous delight. The frenzy of poetic inspiration. Mental transport or rapture from the contemplation of divine things”]. Many first-time MDMA users do indeed become ecstatic. Some people report feeling truly well for the first time in their lives.

Iversen (p. 157-158): Pure MDMA salt is a white crystalline solid. It looks white and tastes bitter. The optimal adult dose of racemic MDMA is about 120-130 mg (around 2 mg/kg body weight). Pills sold in clubs often contain less. There are gender differences in response; proportionately to body weight, women are more sensitive than men to the effects of MDMA and so their optimal dosage may be lower. The preferentially metabolised (+)-enantiomer (‘mirror image’) of MDMA is more active, more stimulating, and more neurotoxic than the (-)-enantiomer.  MDMA is usually taken orally as a tablet, capsule, or powder.

Website: Pure MDMA salt is a white crystalline solid. It looks white and tastes bitter. The compound is chemically stable. MDMA does not readily decompose in heat, air or light. The optimal adult dose of racemic MDMA is probably around 120-130 mg [around 2 mg/kg of body weight i.e. about 125mg] but optimal dose ranges from perhaps 75mg to as much as 250mg. Pills sold in  clubs often contain less. There are gender differences in response; proportionately to body-weight, women are normally more sensitive than men to the sub-acute and longer-term effects of MDMA, so their optimal dosage may be lower. The preferentially metabolised (+)-enantiomer (“mirror image”) of MDMA is more active, more stimulating, more dopaminergic, more subjectively rewarding, and more neurotoxic than the (-)-enantiomer. MDMA is usually taken orally as a tablet, a capsule, or a powder.

Iversen (p. 158): … can promote an extraordinary clarity of introspective self-insight, together with a deep love of self and a no less emotionally intense empathetic love of others. MDMA also acts as a euphoriant. The euphoria is usually gentle and subtle; but is sometimes profound.

Website: … can promote an extraordinary clarity of introspective self-insight, together with a deep love of self and a no less emotionally intense empathetic love of others. MDMA also acts as a euphoriant. The euphoria is usually gentle and subtle; but sometimes profound.

Iversen (p. 159): MDMA is sensuous in its effects without being distinctively pro-sexual; it is more of a hug-drug than a love-drug.  However, MDMA’s capacity to dissolve a lifetime’s social inhibitions, prudery, and sexual hang-ups means that lovemaking while under its spell is not uncommon. In men, orgasm is more intense than normal but is delayed: MDMA retains a residual sympathomimetic activity, triggering a detumescence of the male organ. To ease MDMA-induced performance difficulties, flagging Romeos increasingly combine Ecstasy with Viagra.

Website: MDMA is sensuous and sensual in its effects without being distinctively pro-sexual. Although once dubbed “lover’s speed”, MDMA is proverbially more of a hugdrug than a lovedrug: “I kissed someone I was in love with and almost felt as if I was going to pass out from the intensity”, recalls one American clubber. However, MDMA’s capacity to dissolve a lifetime’s social inhibitions, prudery and sexual hang-ups means that lovemaking while under its spell is not uncommon. Superfluous clothes tend to get shed. In men, orgasm is more intense than normal but delayed: MDMA retains a residual sympathomimetic activity, triggering a detumescence of the male organ. To ease MDMA-induced performance difficulties, flagging Romeos increasingly  combine Ecstasy with Viagra.

Bold type indicates differences between the book and the website. University of Oxford policy on plagiarism. Plagiarism by Harvard professors.

12 Responses to “Plagiarism by British Drug Tsar”

  1. Alex Chernavsky Says:

    Good catch. How did you notice this? Someone at Google could probably write a script to ferret-out many instances of this kind of stuff.

  2. Seth Roberts Says:

    Alex, the person who told me about this would prefer not to be identified.

  3. LemmusLemmus Says:

    Have you or the anonymous person notified his employers about this?

  4. Seth Roberts Says:

    LemmusLemmus, no.

  5. dearieme Says:

    Oh dear, he’ll have to go and work at Harvard.

  6. בניית אתרים Says:

    Damn! trully a good catch!
    בניית אתרים

  7. dcgent Says:

    Anyone check whether the website stole from Iversen? He has a 2001 book Drugs: a short introduction, also published by OUP, which might contain this same material in theory.

  8. CTB Says:

    Just curious, anyone know who authored the 2002 MDMA website? McGraw Hill has a text called Taking Sides which offers a pro/con analysis of several drug topics, and in it, Iversen argues that Ecstasy isn’t as bad as some people make it out to be. That 2002 MDMA website had to have been written by someone very very knowledgeable in pharma, as well as sympathetic to the cause…could it have been Iversen? He’s been around since the 60’s, at least….

    http://www.mcgrawhill.ca/highereducation/product/9780078127564/taking+sides:+clashing+views+in+drugs+and+society/

    “Issue 4. Are the Dangers of Ecstasy (MDMA) Overstated?
    YES: Leslie Iversen, from Speed, ecstasy, Ritalin: The Science of Amphetamines (Oxford University Press, 2006)
    NO: National Institute on Drug Abuse, from “MDMA (ecstasy) Abuse,” National Institute on Drug Abuse Research Report (March 2006)
    Author Leslie Iversen contends that ecstasy can result in adverse effects but that the drug has been unfairly demonized. Moreover, Iversen states that its negative consequences on the brain have not been proven conclusively. Iversen acknowledges that ecstasy may produce profound effects, although those effects are subject to an individual’s perception. Club drugs such as ecstasy allow partygoers to dance and remain active for long periods of time according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). However, ecstasy may produce a number of adverse effects such as high blood pressure, panic attacks, loss of consciousness, seizures, and death. Moreover, ecstasy can produce negative effects on the brain, resulting in confusion, depression, memory impairment, and attention difficulties.”

  9. Gunnar Says:

    Quite an accumulation of titles and positions over the range of education, policy making and actual drug commercialisation.

    I sure hope he did it in the interest of humanity.

  10. Seth Roberts Says:

    David Pearce is author of the website. His name is at the bottom of the current version.

  11. amsale Says:

    i also think its Good catch. How did you notice this? Someone at Google could probably write a script to ferret-out many instances of this kind of stuff.

  12. 2all Says:

    i think its Good catch. How did you notice this??