Researchers set tests for ibogaine

August 29, 1993|By Knight-Ridder News Service

MIAMI -- Researchers at the University of Miami next month plan to conduct the first scientific human experiments in this country on a drug that could potentially cure cocaine, heroin and alcohol addiction.

The drug, ibogaine, is found in the root of a West African plant, iboga.

"It could have zero impact or it could revolutionize drug therapy," said lead UM researcher Juan Sanchez-Ramos. If ibogaine works, said UM researcher Deborah Mash, it could have lasting rewards for American taxpayers.

"The cost of drug dependency to the American people carries a very heavy price tag," said Dr. Mash, an associate professor of neurology.

Drs. Mash and Sanchez-Ramos are part of a team of researchers encouraged last week by the recommendation of a Food and Drug Administration committee to allow tests of ibogaine on humans.

Researchers cited favorable results by the International Coalition for Addict Self Help in Holland, an underground group, in weaning addicts off drugs with ibogaine.

Research will focus primarily on nine people who have already experimented with the drug.

Researchers will monitor them for three months before returning to the FDA to request permission to administer the drug, Dr. Mash said.

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