Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Politics and Polemics of Ibogaine

Ibogaine as a psychotropic would always be controversial. Howard Lotsof and I knew this from the get go. What we never expected was that greed and betrayal would ultimately sabotage an enormously worthwhile project, one that could potentially benefit millions of people.

Somewhere along the line, during a 20+ year odyssey that spanned the best years of my life, politics and polemics would get in the way of commercializing ibogaine treatment. What could not be stopped by the pharma-industrial complex or our shortsighted federal government, was the tide of the addicts themselves, weary and war-torn, always on the frontline of human suffering, who were desperate and clever enough to bypass all the oppressive societal mechanisms and treat themselves. This has become the almost righteous legacy of ibogaine.

Fifteen years ago when reports of ibogaine animal studies were being published from Eastern Europe, I turned to Howard and proclaimed, "This thing you started has taken on a life of its own. And no one can stop it. We are about to become bystanders."

Another friend warned me that Howard should never have attempted to make money off of ibogaine. She said he should give his discovery away as a "gift to mankind." Deep down, I felt the truth of her words gnaw at my soul, but the wheels had already been set into motion, and I became just another observer of a tsunami, a juggernaut that could not be stopped.

It should be noted, however, that Howard tried to raise money via a non-profit, his Dora Weiner Foundation, from 1983 through 1986. During this 3 year period do-gooders only kicked in about $10K, hardly enough to launch an effort to bring ibogaine to the world. It wasn't until Howard formed NDA International, Inc., a for-profit corporation, did significant cash start rolling in to finance this against-all-odds project. I remember people did see potential in securing patents and opening for-profit treatment centers, given the potential (and highly conservative) estimate of a patient base of a half million narcotic addicts in the United States.

From Simon Witter and the drugs-forum in the U.K. is an unabridged version of an article that appeared in The Times Magazine (London), July 1998. It is a detailed account of the disastrous struggle Howard Lotsof faced in the final years of our company, NDA International. It is also a breathless testament to the addict ibogaine experience and it illuminates why this gift to mankind will never go away.

The piece begins:

It may change society and save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people (at a conservative estimate), but ibogaine development is being tied up in a bitter legal war that has already almost ruined the man who discovered it. Is this the blessed chalice, the cure to drug addiction and more? Is it the greatest pharmaceutical discovery of the late 20th century? Or will it turn out to be just another story of a maverick visionary being shafted, and all benefits lost to mankind?

Click to read the entire article, A Journalist Investigates Ibogaine: Its Effects and Its Politics.

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