A Contemporary History of Ibogaine in the United States and Europe
THE ALKALOIDS, 2001, Vol.56, Chapitre 14
Copyright © 2001 by Academic Press
Kenneth R. Alper, Dana Beal & Charles D. Kaplan
In 1995, Dr. Curtis Wright, then the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ibogaine project officer, wrote “What’s clear is that a significant portion of the public we serve believes the drug merits investigation” (1). Wright’s statement intimates a relationship of public opinion to regulatory scientific policy. The statement was made at a time when the FDA, partly in response to highly motivated and organized public advocacy, was modifying its drug development process to accommodate the more rapid evaluation and approval of agents used to treat the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) (2,3). As with treatments for HIV, ibogaine has been associated with a vocal activist subculture, which has viewed its mission as advocating the availability of a controversial treatment to a stigmatized and marginalized minority group of patients who suffer from a lifethreatening illness.
Wright’s perception of significant public interest in ibogaine was derived from two related subcultural contexts. One such context is the medical subculture of the informal ibogaine treatment scene, and the other is the political subculture of advocacy for the development and availability of ibogaine. This chapter focuses on a contemporary history and description of the medical subculture of the informal treatment scenes of the United States and Europe, and the political subculture of ibogaine advocacy. The period of time spanned by the history presented in this chapter extends from the early 1960s to the present, and it is thus termed a “contemporary” history of ibogaine. Ibogaine has a long history of use as a ritual hallucinogen in Africa. However, the early 1960s marked the advent of the attempt to develop ibogaine as a treatment for substance dependence in the United States and Europe.