ibogaine article - Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA) (fwd) 
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 ibogaine article - Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA) (fwd)

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---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 22 Dec 1998 02:41:40 EST

Subject: ibogaine article - Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA)

Newshawk: General Pulaski
      Pubdate: 20 Dec 1998
      Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA)

      Website: http://www.***.com/
      Forum: http://www.***.com/
      Copyright: 1998 Cox Interactive Media.  
      Section: ScienceWatch

      BREAKING {*filter*}ION'S HOLD

      COULD AN AFRICAN PLANT HELP DRUG users overcome their cravings?
Some say
      yes, but research results are mixed and legal battles hinder the

      The answer to America's drug problem may lie somewhere in the
roots of an obscure plant
      that grows wild in African rain forests.  That is, if only
scientists could read and follow the
      directions the plant seems to be giving them.

      With a single capsule --- or perhaps several over a period of
weeks --- {*filter*} {*filter*}s,
      {*filter*}ics, {*filter*} users, even smokers, might erase or at least
interrupt their cravings.  One
      researcher talks hopefully of a skin patch from which {*filter*}s
would slowly absorb a
      compound that blocks the biochemical events that trigger the
desire to smoke, shoot up or

      But after several million dollars' worth of federally funded
research, efforts to understand the
      plant and the properties of a compound squeezed from its cells
have foundered on a tangle of
      lawsuits and conflicting scientific results.

      That is unfortunate, said Dr.  Stanley Glick, chairman of the
department of pharmacology and
      neuroscience at Albany Medical College in New York.  "In my view,
it is something that
      certainly should be investigated," Glick said. "When you hear the
same stories from enough
      people enough times, you have to believe that there's something at
least worth investigating."

      The stories Glick and others have been hearing for a decade
involve the results of "offshore"
      treatment of drug {*filter*}s at clinics in the Caribbean and Panama
with a substance called
      ibogaine.  In dozens of cases, {*filter*}s report that a day or two
after taking ibogaine, a
      relatively mild hallucinogen, they are strangely free of cravings.

      The plant from which ibogaine is extracted is Tabernanthe iboga,
and hunters in the African
      nation of Gabon have known about it for centuries. They say eating
small quantities of iboga
      root enables them to remain alert, yet motionless, for hours on

      But until 1962, when Howard S.  Lotsof, then a New York film
student, decided to try the
      drug, no one knew of its effect on {*filter*}ion.

      Lotsof explained that he and several friends were experimenting
with a variety of psychoactive
      {*filter*}, including LSD and {*filter*}.  He had no intention of ending
any kind of drug use when
      he heard about ibogaine and decided to give it a try at the age of
19, he said.

      "Thirty hours later, my desire to use {*filter*} had vanished," he
recalled.  He suggested that
      several other friends give it a try, and they had the same

      For years, Lotsof did nothing about ibogaine.  But in 1980, he
decided the discovery was too
      important to be ignored.  He filed patents on the use of the drug
to treat {*filter*}ion and formed
      a New York corporation, NDA International Inc.  The purpose of the
company is to market a
      preparation he named Endabuse, composed of capsules that contain
an ibogaine compound,
      and to pursue research.  He sought cooking.net">food and Drug Administration
approval for clinical trials
      of the drug.

      By then, ibogaine had been designated a controlled substance by
the U.S. Drug Enforcement
      Administration, like {*filter*} and {*filter*}.  With the cooperation
of physicians in the
      Netherlands, Lotsof opened a clinic to treat {*filter*} {*filter*}s there,
where it was legal.

      Several patients reported the treatments relieved their cravings.
Others were not helped.  One
      young woman died.

      Meanwhile, Lotsof met Dr.  Deborah Mash, a brain researcher at the
University of Miami
      School of Medicine.  In 1992, Lotsof's company and the university
signed a contract for Mash
      to conduct research on ibogaine and seek FDA approval for human
trials.  Under the contract,
      Lotsof and NDA retained the rights to ibogaine and any
"discoveries, inventions or
      improvements" growing out of Mash's research.

      In 1993, FDA approved her proposal for a clinical trial in which a
few volunteers would take
      ibogaine to assess its side effects.  About the same time, animal
studies into the drug's effect
      were beginning to show results.

      In studies at Albany Medical College, funded by the National
Institute on Drug Abuse, Glick
      found that drug-{*filter*}ed laboratory rats injected with ibogaine
appeared to lose their craving
      for {*filter*}, {*filter*} and nicotine. Other researchers found that
ibogaine interfered with
      {*filter*}ion to {*filter*}, Glick said.

      Although no one knows why this happens, Glick and others theorize
that something in
      ibogaine hinders the molecular processes by which {*filter*} stimulate
the feeling of pleasure and
      craving in the brain.  "I think there is enough information to
warrant doing reputable clinical
      investigations," Glick said.  "There is a wealth of animal data.
I think there is very good
      evidence, and some of it we provided, that the drug may interfere
with {*filter*}ion to opiates,
      stimulants, ({*filter*}) and nicotine."

      But other animal experiments were not so encouraging.  Scientists
at Johns Hopkins
      University reported that ibogaine destroyed brain cells in rats.
Another study showed it caused
      heart problems.

      Then the lawsuits began.

      In 1997, Mash sued NDA and Lotsof, accusing him of failing to keep
up his end of the
      contract by not obtaining adequate patent protection for a new
ibogaine-related compound she
      and her associates had discovered.  She sought $50,000 in damages
and asked a federal court
      in Miami to let her and the university out of the contract.
Lotsof countersued, accusing the
      university and Mash of defrauding him and stealing his patented
uses of ibogaine.  He also
      said that by operating an ibogaine clinic on the Caribbean island
of St.  Kitts, the university
      and Mash were illegally competing with a similar clinic he had
opened in Panama to obtain
      clinical data.

      Mash said she owned no interest in the St.  Kitts clinic, where
she acknowledges ibogaine is
      used to treat {*filter*}s, but said her husband, a Miami lawyer, is
legal adviser to "investors"
      behind the St.  Kitts clinic. She also said patients pay up to
$10,000 for her treatments.

      The FDA-approved trials are on hold because of lack of funds to
continue and because of the
      lawsuits, she said.  Meanwhile, after spending more than $2
million on research grants, the
      National Institute on Drug Abuse is losing interest in ibogaine.
"The drug doesn't look terribly
      promising in terms of the risks and benefits," said Frank Vocci,
director of its Medications
      Development Division.

      Vocci said he believes Glick is the only researcher still
receiving support from the institute for
      ibogaine experiments.  And Glick said he thinks it is unlikely
ibogaine will ever be approved as
      a drug to treat {*filter*}ion, but he still believes further research
is worthwhile.  "I also think there
      is a good possibility that safer and more (effective) derivatives
of ibogaine could be
      successfully developed," he said.  "Ibogaine is a benchmark
against which such derivatives will
      be compared and, for that reason alone, it is important to know as
much about ibogaine as

      Mash said she remains optimistic about ibogaine, despite the
problems she has had in
      obtaining funding for research.  She said ibogaine and its
derivatives offer hope of "a very
      gentle way for an {*filter*} to detox," perhaps someday through a skin

      Lotsof said ibogaine allows {*filter*}s, especially {*filter*} users, to
put aside their fears of
      withdrawal and begin the process of detoxification.

      The legal fights and discouraging scientific findings have not
kept an ibogaine subculture from
      growing in several countries, and a variety of Internet sites now
offer information that is, for
      the most part, biased in favor of the drug.

      One of the sites recently posted a long account from a
self-described ibogaine patient who
      happily described the wonderful effects it had on her. The essay
is followed by a sad
      postscript, stating that a few months after writing her account,
the patient relapsed into drug
      {*filter*}ion and committed suicide.  

      Checked-by: Mike Gogulski

Sun, 10 Jun 2001 03:00:00 GMT
 [ 1 post ] 

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