In late September (2016), Florida State’s Attorney General, Pam Bondi, joined thirty-five other states and the District of Columbia in a class action law suite against Reckitt Benckiser, the manufacturers of Suboxone. The 92 page complaint outlines how Reckitt Benckiser, its subsidiary Indivior, and a third company, MonoSol RX gamed the pharmaceutical regulatory process by ‘product hopping’ in an effort to maintain its monopoly on the Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) drug market. The plaintiffs claim that Reckitt Benckiser used a variety of “deceptive and unconscionable” practices to tank the Suboxone tablet market while replacing the pill form with their new sublingual strips.
I bring this to your attention not to bring shame on Reckitt Benckiser, Indivior or MonoSol RX – they’ve proven to be more than capable of doing that all by themselves – but rather to illustrate the size and scope of the industry growing intertwined with our opiate/opioid epidemic; and also to show you why safe and proven effective non-neurotoxic and non-addictive therapies are not finding their way to the addicts who need them the most.
In 2009 Reckitt Benckiser’s Suboxone patent was set to expire. At the time they owned 85% of the MAT market with sales exceeding $1,000,000,000.00 billion dollars annually on only 12% market penetration. In laymen’s terms, what this means is that the newly emerging market for Suboxone and its generic counterparts could easily grow an estimated 300% in the next 5 years to over $3,000,000,000.00 billion dollars. Reckitt Benckiser’s destruction of the tablet market was precipitated over concerns of their patent expiring and the market share they’d lose to generic Suboxone. The patent on their new sublingual strips expires in 2023.
As the old adage goes; “when elephants fight only the ants get killed.” Once again, we find ourselves in the unenviable position of corporate giants wrestling over profits in court while our growing needs are ignored and go unmet. For all intent and purposes, we’ve entrusted our health to these giants. In one form or another they have a heavy influence on our biomedical research. The Pharmaceutical industry dictates the research schedule at our universities and medical hospitals – and as a result we find ourselves drowning in pool of toxic medicines driven by market forces and profit rather than our needs. Moreover, PhRMA’s iron tight grasp on congress assures us we’ll continue to see legislation friendly to the behemoth’s profit margin while putting our health and lives at risk. Albeit, I’m glad to see Florida join this lawsuit that addresses trade and patent policy, I can’t help but to think it blurs the most important issue; ‘what is the best treatment for addicts?’
It was about this time over twenty-years ago that I had a life changing experience. I was invited to participate in Dr. Debra Mash’s FDA approved human testing of a botanical medicine that showed great promise in the treatment of opiate/opioid addiction. As a clinician, it was my responsibility to prepare individuals for treatment. Often, that included implementing a plant-based diet combined with an amino acid regiment to help the brain heal from substance abuse. Once the treatment was complete, it was my responsibility to counsel the individual to help them fully benefit from their experience.
What I observed in the first days of the study shocked me to my very core – it can only be described as a miracle. In fact, if I didn’t witness it with my own two eyes I would’ve been skeptical myself. After just one dose of Ibogaine – an organic plant medicine – long-term addicts who had been abusing heroin everyday for the last five or ten years and even longer were walking around with full cognitive function and not one sign of opioid withdrawal symptoms and/or cravings. I was astounded – after just 12 hours, addicts who looked to be on their death bed appeared refreshed, rejuvenated and completely detoxed. Some experienced minor sleep disturbances but they were completely pain and cravings free – and that pattern continued for the duration of the testing.
Participants in the study describe a spiritual journey and claimed it is like going through years of therapy. Most said they traveled back in time to their childhood where they were an observer to their own events. Others claim they go back to where underlying issue leading to their addiction arose. They say they were able to witness events they felt were traumatic to them at the time without feeling the emotions they associated to the events. Many said the troubling memories were suppressed and nothing they’d thought about in a long while, but were able to come to terms with them. By the end of their experience almost all claimed to feel some sort of emotional healing and no longer felt the need or desire to abuse drugs.
Although we understand little about the dreams people experience, Dr. Mash concluded that they are somehow significant to the outcome. “It’s as if the plant is teaching you something fundamental about who you are as a person and why you’ve got yourself locked into this intractable pattern of behavior.”
Ibogaine is derived from the root of a shrub found in west central Africa. It has been safely used in religious ceremonies for hundreds of years. The DEA classified Ibogaine as a schedule 1 drug in 1967 along with Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and a host of other drugs – both organic and synthetic – considered hallucinogenic. Many experts – myself included – believe that the broad sweeping of drugs into schedule 1 classifications had more to due with the cultural issues of the 60’s rather than the absence of potential medical benefits, as so many of the organic plant based medicines lacked any meaningful scientific research at the time.
But that has changed. Dr. Mash’s decades of research in addition to her study on over 300 participants that ended in 2003 provides great insight into the benefits of Ibogaine in the treatment of opioid addiction. Mash’s findings are consistent with other studies conducted outside the U.S. and the information reported by Ibogaine treatment clinics across the globe.
Research has shown that Ibogaine affects serotonin and dopamine neurotransmitters. Scientists do not completely understand how Ibogaine reduces or eliminates withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings; but it is believed that the botanical medicine resets neurotransmitters to a ‘pre’ addiction setting.
We have known for quite some time that the vast majority of people treated with Ibogaine experience little if any withdrawal symptoms and/or drug cravings after treatment. We also know the effects can wear off over time. There are some people who credit Ibogaine for helping them stay clean for decades while others can start to see the effect wear off after thirty days depending on their metabolism.
There have been deaths associated with Ibogaine therapy, but there is no scientific evidence indicating the cause of death was Ibogaine. To the contrary, the reported deaths were the result of preexisting conditions. I’ve personally experienced Ibogaine therapy and on my recommendation so did my son. Done properly and under the direction of a trained doctor and medical staff, it is my opinion that Ibogaine presents the best possible first stage addiction treatment therapy available today. However, I always recommend therapy after Ibogaine treatment.
No one is suggesting or implying Ibogaine is a cure for addiction. However, it is thought of by leading scientists and researchers as an “addiction interrupter” that can play a vital role in ending our opiate/opioid epidemic. The information available to date clearly shows a pattern of safe and effective addiction treatment that can no longer be ignored.
However, considering the breadth of our epidemic and the lack of success in treating the disease, it’s surprising the U.S. still has perhaps the harshest position on Ibogaine compared to all other countries. In most other countries Ibogaine remains unlicensed and unregulated. Ibogaine addiction treatment clinics have been operating in Costa Rica, Mexico, Canada, the Netherlands, South Africa, and New Zealand for quite some time.
It seems as though Ibogaine treatment clinics can be found just about everywhere except the U.S. where 80% of the global opioid supply and 99% of the global hydrocodone supply, as well as two-thirds of the world’s illegal drugs are consumed here at home in the U.S. where we have less than 5% of the global population.
In fact, some centers in Mexico tell me that the majority of their clientele are Americans addicted to Suboxone – an opioid whose research was subsidized by U.S. Taxpayer dollars.
This begs the question, why are our government agencies funding research on an addictive opioid more powerful than heroin whose intended purpose is to treat heroin addicts when an organic non-toxic non-addictive plant medicine within our grasp can eliminate painful withdrawals and drug cravings while putting a person on a solid path to recovery? Sure seems to me that Suboxone should be the banned substance classified as a schedule 1 drug and Ibogaine needs to be mandated in all addiction treatment protocols.
Some states that have been hit particularly hard by the opiate/opioid epidemic are fed up with the federal government’s Suboxone profit-motivated solution and are attempting to take matters into their own hands. Vermont bill H.387 calls for an Ibogaine pilot program. “12 (a) The Commissioner of Public Safety, in consultation with the Commissioner of Health, shall develop and implement a pilot program to dispense Ibogaine for the treatment of individuals addicted to drugs or alcohol.” New York State has a similar piece of legislation, Assembly Bill A8356A “Requires the office of alcoholism and substance abuse services to encourage, aid, and facilitate clinical research into the use of Ibogaine in drug treatment for heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine addiction.”
Addiction treatment is a $35,000,000,000.00 billion dollar a year industry. No wonder insurance companies hate it and pharmaceutical companies love it. But what about the addicts caught in the middle, what is best for them? While thirty-six states and the District of Columbia wage a class action law suit against the manufacturers of the opioid Suboxone for improper trade practices, thousands of people are going to die from opiates and opioids.
It just seems to me our leaders have lost their way, they have it backwards. Wouldn’t it make more sense to put your energies into a direction that would immediately save lives – as in today – and completely eliminate the need for Suboxone all together? Why are our state politicians jumping on a class action lawsuit when they should be passing legislation approving Ibogaine for addiction treatment?
Ibogaine is an organic substance that cannot be patented; therefore PhRMA cannot make money on it. With no money to be made, the pharmaceutical industry will not research Ibogaine, nor will universities or medical research hospitals – ergo, our healthcare that we entrusted to PhRMA is determined by market forces and profit as opposed to safe and effective evidence-based, scientifically-proven therapies. Advocates for profit-driven solutions to addiction treatment fear Ibogaine. They know Ibogaine has the potential to collapse the addiction treatment industry and bring an end to this very profitable $35,000,000,000.00 billion dollar a year epidemic. These advocates make huge political contributions that many have suggested influence policy. This is all the more reason to ask every politician who crosses your path what they are doing to get Ibogaine approved for addiction treatment.
John Giordano DHL, MAC is an addiction expert and consultant, the President and Founder of the National Institute For Holistic Addiction Studies, Chaplain of the North Miami Police Department and is on the editorial board of The scientific Journal of Reward Deficiency Syndrome (JRDS) and has contributed to over 65 papers published in peer-reviewed scientific and medical journals with the discoverer of the addiction gene Dr. Kenneth Blum and other noted scientists and researchers. For the latest development in cutting-edge treatment check out his website: http://www.holisticaddictioninfo.com