ACT UP pickets CASA for ibogaine treatment on demand

Copyright Manisses Communications Group 1992
Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Week

October 21, 1992

SECTION: Vol. 4 ; No. 41 ; Pg. 5; ISSN: 1042-1394

LENGTH: 478 words

HEADLINE: ACT UP pickets CASA for ibogaine treatment on demand; AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse

BODY: A small group of activists from the controversial group ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) recently picketed the offices of Joseph Califano, Jr., president of the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA), demanding that he meet with them on providing treatment on demand for drug addicts.

According to Dana Beal, treatment and data communications director for ACT UP, the Oct. 8 protest in New York was spurred by a belief that CASA is unduly focused upon casual drug use, at the expense of hard-core users who inject drugs and spread AIDS. Beal said the group is particularly upset about the prominence of Herbert Kleber, M.D., at CASA.

Beal said Kleber, CASA medical director and former deputy director for demand reduction at the Office for National Drug Control Policy, is “very clearly against treatment on demand.” Contending that CASA is setting itself up as the drug leadership team for a possible Clinton administration next year, Beal said of Kleber: “We are not prepared to see him back in his old job.”

Kleber hotly contested ACT UP’s charges. “We don’t know where ACT UP has gotten the idea that CASA, which is a non-partisan policy and research center, is focused on the casual user,” he said. “One of CASA’s main concerns is the adequacy of treatment for addicts, and casual users do not usually need treatment.”

Treatment on demand” sounds goods,” said Kleber, “but the reality is we don’t have the capacity to accomodate the addicts currently on waiting lists for treatment.” Kleber said an additional 700,000 treatment slots need to be added nationally and “ACT UP’s energies would be better directed toward making that happen.”

He also said CASA is independent and nonpartisan and has “no intention to be the drug leadership team for any administration, Republican or Democratic.”

ACT UP representatives want to meet with Califano because “we support treatment on demand for the drug-dependent as one of the key steps to end the AIDS crisis,” said Beal. He also said the group was concerned that CASA has favored certain pharmaceutical responses to drug addiction–such as buprenephrine — over others, such as ibogaine, that ACT UP contends are more effective in blocking craving and addiction.

Kleber called that statement “absurd,” saying, “The only thing we favor is scientific proof.” He also noted that ibogaine has no proven effect in mitigating addictions.

“We still want to meet with Califano ,” said Beal, “but if he won’t meet with us we are prepared to do very indirect things that in the long term would be bad for CASA.” Beal did not elaborate on what actions ACT UP would take. Califano has declined to meet with the group, instead offering a meeting with assistant Susan Kaplan and Kleber. But according to Kaplan, ACT UP never contacted CASA to set up an appointment.

IAC-NUMBER: [Redacted]

IAC-CLASS: Health

LANGUAGE: ENGLISH

LOAD-DATE-MDC: December 29, 1993

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