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Ibogaine Still Ilegal In The United Kingdom

The fact that ibogaine is still illegal in the United Kingdom, given the country’s current drug crisis, has been hotly debated. The benefits of using the West African Tabernanthe Iboga shrub as a viable cure for drug and alcohol addiction, as well as mental health issues, has grown in popularity over the last five decades in the West.


Ibogaine is one of the main alkaloids found in the root bark of the plant. It is the main, purified extract used in treatment for heroin, opioid, cocaine, and alcohol addictions.


Here at Ibogaine Treatment UK, for example, (a subsidiary of Tabula Rasa Retreat), we have successfully treated a wide variety of clients over the past years, helping people help themselves and reclaim their lives.


However, the fact that ibogaine is still illegal in the United Kingdom needs further explaining. According to the Misuse of Drugs Act of 2015, although it is legal to possess ibogaine, what remains to date illegal is its distribution outside of medical settings. On the medical front, under UK law, however, any registered physician can prescribe an unlicensed medicine, as they see fit. 



Why Is Ibogaine Still Illegal In The United Kingdom?

Bringing ibogaine into the fold as a viable cure for addiction and some mental health disorders has been a bumpy process, to say the least.


Up until recently in the UK, the quest to make ibogaine medically licensed for use on humans has been beset by legal disputes between financial backers and scientists. Such disputes have not allowed it to move out of the experimental phase of development.


In addition to the reasons raised above is the larger and far more influential issue of Big Pharma profit. During its initial development period, if a particular drug due to enter the market is not found to make large profit margins in the future, it is unlikely that it will be fully developed and marketed.

This is mostly because Big Pharma companies must pay millions for the development, clinical testing, and trials for any drug.


Additionally, they are also subject to long waiting lists for approval by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, (MHRA). After the initial investment, the responsibility to recover all their losses and generate profit lies solely on them.


Adding to such financial pressure is also the period for which the patent on that drug lasts. After the patent expires, any other company can manufacture generic versions of a drug. This means that a pharmaceutical company only has about 20 years to profit before losing their exclusive patent to their competitors.


On top of this is the fact that the biological nature of ibogaine does not make it particularly attractive for development by the private sector.

In the scope of addiction treatment, ibogaine works very well on a single treatment basis.


Naturally, in the eyes of pharmaceutical companies, ibogaine’s ability to generate profits would be far less than other drugs which require daily dosages over extended periods. To quote an example, there is the case of methadone or buprenorphine, commonly used in substitution therapy for opiate addiction. This is because the latter are drugs that will keep a patient taking them for years, sometimes an entire lifetime. Another case in point are antidepressants or anxiety medication.


Another reason pharma companies have shied away from ibogaine is that there is a certain reluctance on their behalf to invest in treatments for substance abuse, as they believe the market for them is financially unstable.



The Drug Crisis In The United Kingdom

Although in the past, clinical studies about ibogaine’s efficiency in halting drug addiction have been conducted in the United States, such as those published in “The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse,” they have rarely moved past the experimental stage for the reasons cited above. It is because of this lack of regulated testing that ibogaine is still illegal in the United Kingdom and remains a schedule I drug in most countries.


In the United Kingdom alone, as of February 2022, about 3 million people abuse illegal and prescription drugs, with drug deaths having reached the highest recorded count, at a staggering 3,000 deaths per year, compared with 2,263 deaths in 2020.


Over the last decade, heroin-related deaths have doubled, with cocaine-related deaths growing fivefold. Scotland, for example, has now become sadly known as the drug death capital of Europe. These statistics, alongside the well-publicised American opioid crisis, all but make one throw one’s hands up when confronted with the fact that ibogaine is still illegal in the United Kingdom. 



A New Dawn Emerges For Ibogaine

The landscape has begun to change, however. As of March 11th, 2021, one of the UK’s leading clinical trials organisations, MAC Clinical Research, received approval from the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to launch a Phase I/IIa trial.


This trial aimed to test pharma companies DemeRx and atai Life Sciences’ new drug, Ibogaine HCI (DMX-1002), and its suitability for the treatment of opioid use disorder.


Deborah C. Mash PhD, the CEO and founder of DemeRX expressed her gratitude to the necessary organizations for their work in advancing the clinical drug development of ibogaine in a public statement, claiming that: “together, we will help patients to break free from their intractable cycle of opioid dependence. (…) We are hopeful that this early trial can begin to establish a safe and efficacious profile for Ibogaine, so that we can potentially offer a new option for patients seeking to break free from opioid use disorder who have far too few options.


Although, to date, ibogaine is still illegal in the United Kingdom, at least in terms of widespread distribution, the tide has begun to change. With such trials being conducted in the UK, and while the data gathered is still in its infancy and has a long way to go, the door has been opened, and new alliances have been formed in the concerted fight to help people reclaim their lives.


If you happen to be struggling with addiction and have reached the point where you want to stop, but feel worn down by the times you have tried and not succeeded, we here at Ibogaine Treatment UK (a subsidiary of Tabula Rasa Retreat) know what it feels like.

We, too, on the team, have been through the throes of addiction and, through the knowing, generous, and restorative effects of the Iboga shrub, were able to find a freedom not felt in years. Let us help you help yourself, too.