In 2018, 2.1 million Americans met the diagnostic criteria for opioid use disorder (OUD), with 47,600 people dying from overdoses. Current treatment options for OUD are not only limited, but often carry risk of significant side effects and abuse potential.
In response to this huge unmet medical need, ATAI Life Sciences and DemeRx have announced a joint venture aimed at developing ibogaine for those suffering from opioid addiction.
Ibogaine use traces back to ancient coming-of-age ceremonies conducted by the West African Bwiti tribe, but it was also marketed in France as a stimulant from 1939-1970. More recently, studies of ibogaine have shown its promise as a treatment for both acute withdrawal and long term abstinence in OUD.
“So far, we’ve been largely helpless in the face of the growing opioid epidemic, particularly with existing medical therapies that are chronically dosed,” said Dr. Deborah Mash, CEO of DemeRx. “Ibogaine stands to change the treatment paradigm for OUD sufferers, with a single administration potentially offering long-term benefits.”
Building on the extensive human data available around ibogaine, ATAI and DemeRx will submit Clinical Trial Applications for a Phase II study in opioid-dependent patients. The JV will also develop screening procedures, dosing guidelines, and best practices for administration to ensure patient safety.
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