Copyright © 1995-1996, Paul De Rienzo, Dana Beal
and Members of the Project
All Rights Reserved
CHAPTER 10: Carlo Contoreggi
Howard Lotsof actually first contacted Charlie Grudzinskasbefore he was appointed head of MDD in January, 1991. Scanning a publication calledThe Scientist in November, 1990, he noticed an interview of a Lederle exec on regulatory changes needed to develop new drugs to treat drug dependency. It paralleled Howard’s own thinking, including orphan drug provisions and the suspension of product liability (since all new daily-dose medications will wind up in druggies who can croak from street drugs a nytime they relapse). Howard was so impressed he phoned the interviewee, Grudzinskas.
Near the end of their first conversation he told him: “You know, my company has a really effective, single-dose, broad-spectrum treatment for addiction.”Howard sent him Ibogaine material and they talked again. During their third phone conversation, Charlie told him he was leaving Lederle to become head of Medica- tion Development at NIDA, and told him to send a letter requesting a meeting. but after he was in office, so it would be official. “I want to get in first. Send the letter after I get app ointed, in January.” That letter led to the April 12th meeting.
But the old boy’s network had given Grudzinskas a deputy to watch-dog him, named Frank Vocci. In 1987, Vocci wrote the guidelines for emergency Schedule I classification of new hallucinogens, etc, as drugs of abuse. He was the one who asked about fl ashbacks, freak-outs, etc., as if Ibogaine was just another LSD analog. Both ACT UP and Howard, meeting with him separately, had to assure him in Grudzin-skas’ presence that this is a neutral, cognitive experience; that it’s waking REM, not hallucinatio ns, and so-on. But Vocci watched Grudzinskas’ back, and kept him firmly in the NIDA loop whenever he tended toward running MDD as a private company, not wanting to tell public interest groups what was going on.
One of the points of contention at the July 10th meeting was the restrictions on Carlo Contoreggi. In March of the previous year, Bob Sisko had opened his own line into NIDA, but through NIDA’s Addiction Research Center (ARC) at John Hopkins in Baltim ore, not MDD in Rockville. At that point Medications Develop-ment was still being formed out of NIDA pre-clinical research in response to Sen. Biden’s language in the 1988 Omnibus Anti-Crime Act, mandating a seach for a “magic bullet” to cure addiction.
Sisko had come to Dr. Contoreggi following up on Howard’s contacts with ARC Medical Director Bob Lange, who’d at least shown a willingness to listen. He and Carlo are the ARC medical officers. If some one has a bad reaction in a clinical trial to one of the medications ARC is investigating as a treatment, instead of having a researcher who often has years of effort invested in a pet drug treat the complications, an independent physician comes in, treats the complications, and writes up a report. Bo th Lange and Contoreggi are watchdogs. But Lange is the boss: Carlo is the one who actually runs down and treats the crackhead who’s having a seizure. So he’s seen a hundred different drug cures in action. And both he and Lange knew almost everything NID A was testing was not living up to initial claims. In fact, they were bombing out.
Sisko brought Contoreggi one addict to look at, before and after treatment, since Ibogaine isn’t legal in the U.S. and Carlo wasn’t willing to fly off to Holland based on a rumor. The same junkie interviewed in the VILLAGE BEAT as “Dragonheart.” He w as a rock promoter snorting $500-a-day of heroin. When he walked into Contoreggi’s office before Ibogaine, he was in bad shape–pale, emaciated, bent over. And during the interview, he progressed from nodding out to the chills and shakes of withdrawal. Th e only way he could finish the battery of questions and tests was for Carlo to give him an on-the-spot injection of morphine.
Carlo had to admit Sisko had brought him abona fide addict. When Dragon- heart came back two weeks later, Contoreggi couldn’t believe the difference. “This tall, straight athletic-looking guy walks in. No pallor. No trace of withdraw al. In fact he’s radiating good health, looks like he’s been working out. There’s a bounce in his step, a sparkle in his eye. The thing is, I’m a clinician–an M.D., not a rat scientist. I knew we had nothing in development that could do that. It’s physic ally impossible in that timeframe.”
Addicts with money smoke heroin, by frying it on a piece of tinfoil and sucking up the vapor with a straw. They call it “chasing the dragon.” During the second interview the ex-addict told Carlo how before treatment, he felt the Dragon had his heart i n its claws, but nowhe had the Dragon’s heart. He wanted his case-name to be “Dragonheart.”
The scientist in Carlo Contoreggi was hooked. But then his enthusiasm came to the attention of Bob Lange’s boss, Dr. Jerome Jaffee, the overall head of the Addiction Research Center.
Since one third of NIDA’s budget goes to the ARC, Jaffee was definitely part of the old-boy network. He’d come up with Herb Kleber, who twenty years earlier had Contoreggi’s job. After the conclusion of Ted Koppel’s Night-Line town meet- ing, Septem ber 8, ’88, Dana buttonholed Jaffee and asked: “When are we going to have Ibogaine?”
“Never,” said Jaffee, “We have test results showing it doesn’t work.” His air of smooth assurance was so great that even Dana was rocked back. A doubt was planted in his mind that wasn’t dispelled until the day several months later when Fred told him he’d taken it, and it did work. And of course, Jaffee and Kleber had nothing whatsoever to show it wouldn’t work in humans. What they had is a rat study with a wrong paradigm, designed to have the experiment fail, and then to publish the results in orde r to make it appear that Ibogaine had no value.
In 1990 Jaffee and Sharpe published a study entitled Ibogaine Doesn’t Work.They concluded Ibogaine administered subcutaneously (under the skin) failed to reduce naloxone-percipitated withdrawal in morphine-addicted rats, except for depressing o ne sign: grooming. Since that contradicts the findings of Dzoljic, Ka-plan & Dzoljic (1988), Aceto, Bowman & Harris (1990), and all the findings of Stan- ley Glick’s braintrust, Glick decided further work was necessary to resolve this.
Jaffee and Sharpe implied that all the other researchers had mistaken the temporary depression of motor activity caused by Ibogaine-induced tremor for genuine attenuation of withdrawal. After all, immediate effects of Ibogaine include drastic reductio n of bar-pressing for water. But the morphine in Dzoljic’s experiment was implanted., not self-injected, by the rats, so Glick’s Albany Medical College group got together with the Capitol District Center for Drug Abuse Research and Trea tment, and did a definitive, two-stage experiment to resolve the descrepancy.
In Part I, rats addicted after five days of morphine were given interperitoneal-ly (i.p.: in the gut) 20, 40 and 80 mg.-per-kg. of Ibogaine thirty minutes before one mg.-per-kg. of naltrexone HCl. Glick found that wet-dog shakes, grooming, teeth-cha ttering and diarrhea were all depressed 50 to 70% or more. Weight-loss and head-burying were marginally affected. At 40 mg.-per-kg. of Ibogaine, flinching was also depressed more than 50%.
But not only might Ibogaine-induced tremors during the first two hours be skewing the results, their unmistakable visibility made a true double-blind study impossible. So Glick & Co. ran Part II of the experiment with the lowest completely efective do se–40 mg.-per-kg–given four hours before naltrexone, so the tremor would be totally dissipated. Wet-dog shakes and grooming were still depressed more than fifty per cent. Teeth-chattering and diarrhea were virtually knocked out. (Weight-loss and he ad-burying increased slightly).
Now in the fine print, Jaffee and Sharpe had covered themselves in the fine print of their paper, warning that discrepancies between their results and all others might be due to species variations in the rats, subcutaneous versus interperitoneal or intercerebro-ventricu lar (directly into the ventricular spaces of the cerebrum) administration of Ibogaine. Glick added a different mode of injection of, and a longer exposure to mor-phine, plus use of naltrexone instead of naloxone. Still, he writes, every researcher found evidence Ibogaine lessened morphine withdrawal in animals. Even Sharpe and Jaffee found lessening of one sign–grooming–indicating Ibogaine should 100continue to be investigated for treating opiate dependence, whatever the explanation.
But this study, Effects of Ibogaine on Acute Signs of Morphine Withdrawal in Rats: Independence From Tremor (S. D. Glick, K. Roseman, N.C. Rao, I. M. Maison-neuve & J. N. Carlson) wouldn’t even be accepted for publication until November, 19 91. In August, 1990, Jaffee had his paper published and in hand, and as Carlo Con- toreggi’s ultimate boss, ruled that he could not do any more pre- and post-treatment evaluations of Ibogaine, under pain of being fired on the spot.
At their July 10, 1991 meeting with MDD, the reason become clear to Dana and Sisko. Vocci took the line that there was no urgency to get Ibogaine into clinical trials, because there was no hard evidence it worked in human addicts at all, and that NIDA couldn’t help in developing that evidence. Medications Development was enjoined from even looking at a Schedule I drug in humans, no matter what it might do to stop addiction, AIDS crisis and all. Even pre- and post-treatment evaluation in humans would r epresent tacit NIDA approval– MDD complicity in an end-run around FDA.
That was the reason why, in the timeline presented presented October 29th, Vocci proposed doing the entire 1971 Dhahir toxicology study over again in the the timeline presented October 29th. It was also why ACT UP argued strenuously that Ibogaine must be considered an AIDS drug, either due to impact on prevention or because narcotic depression of the immune-system may well be a co-factor in the progression of AIDS.
Dr. Peter Hartsock of NIDA, whose New Haven study broke the back of resistance to needle exchange, and tangled with the Kleber/Jaffee crowd continuously, said their method is to obstruct from the shadows with whispers, to stab in the back. Pretty clearly, the ir strategy for stopping Ibogaine was to keep it in rat studies forever, hoping it could be made to appear to fail there, when the real question is why in works so much better in human addicts than in rodents.
By Oct. 29th 1991 the harm reduction coalition had more than three dozen human case studies, enought to tell the MDD that 25% walk away from hard drugs forever after one treatment; on 25% it’s effective less than a month. Of the middle 50%, one third (ab out an additional 15%) experience “shallow re-entry syndrome”: they try using drugs again, but find they just don’t like them anymore, so they too are drug-free after six months, giving an actual single-dose success-rate of 40%. The 35% remaining can b e kept substantially drug-free with treatments every six months and adjunct support groups like Narcotics Anonymous. (Of course, if you could put AIDS into remission every six months with two days of chemo, the media would tout it as a cure.)
There are also indications that after three or more treatments the interrupter effect may “take” (like a successful organ transplant), due to the “maturing out” of the addict, which Bob Sisko relates to the use of iboga in Gabon to initiate adolesc ents into adulthood. Of course, whenever he’s start talking Bwiti, as in “accessing your hereditary archive,” Vocci and Grudzinskas would just roll their eyes.
Meanwhile, at the beginning of October ’91, Dhoruba Bin Wahad came out for hemp in front of 20,000 people at Ben Masel’s Annual Harvest Fest in Madison, Wisconsin. A few days later, Oct. 9th, on appeal by the Manhattan District Attorney, his convictio n was re-instated by New York’s higest court. The rules had been changed in the middle of the game. Merely showing prosecutorial misconduct was no longer enough to keep him free. Now his lawyers had to prove the evidence withheld, the outright fabrication s, would have materially affected the outcome of the trial. He flew to Paris, then Ghana; it looked like he might stay in Africa, in exile.
In November, 1991, on election day, Dennis Peron’s San Franscisco ballot initiative for medical marijuana for people with AIDS passed by the largest per centage of votes in city history–80%. The national media made a big thing of it, and as far away as Washington, D.C., pollsters and politicians sat up and took notice.
At the beginning of January, 1992, Herb Kleber left his Office of National Drug Control Policy (Deputy Drug Czar) position, ostensibly to protest Bush continuing its 70-to-30 ratio of law enforcement to treatment.
Actually he was taking a better-pay ing, more politically-secure job as head of Columbia University’s Substance Abuse Division, preparatory to become Number 2 man at a new think tank called the Center on Addicition and Substance Abuse (CASA) under Joe Califano, who stopped pot decrim as HEW Secretary in 1979, and blocked early U.S. adoption of the Dutch harm reduction model. Since all subsequent Dutch reforms like needle exchange flowed from decrim of pot there in 1976, this Carter administration decision was arguably responsible for half o f all AIDS cases in the U.S.
Curiously, although SUNY, CUNY, Cornell and virtually every university in and around N.Y.C. are now engaged in Ibogaine research, Columbia has since 1986 refused even to do rat studies “on the advice of their attorneys.” (Or under the influ-ence of te nured faculty like Gabriel Nahas. His marijuana pseudo-science, sponsored by the U.N. Office on Narcotics when it was headed by the daughter of Lyndon LaRouche, whipped up pot hysteria in the ’70’s, until de-bunked around 1980 when every finding turned ou t to be faked. There is a definite mentality that opposes Ibogaine simply because it comes from the harm reduction side, and because it isn’t effective against pot). The President of Columbia, Michael Sovern, is on the Board of CASA. And despite having He rb Kleber as Assistant Director for Medical Affairs, CASA’s charter specifically excludes funding biomedical research, in favor of prevention through education and long-term residential treatment.
Prominent on CASA’s board is Jim Burke, head of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, whose stated goal is mobilize the Advertizing Industry to fosterintolerance of illegal drugs and those who use them. Alcohol and tobacco are never102 targeted in their ads, perhaps because their corporate sponsors include Anheuser-Busch and RJR-Nabisco, along with the biggest banks, pharmaceutical companies, and top media like Capitol Cities (ABC). (See Partnership list, next 2 pages). Their ads equating marij uana and hard drugs are omnipresent on television and in the papers, which get tax write-offs. CASA seems to have been formed as a think tank to fine-tune their message, after some of those ads turned out to be wildly inaccurate. (One showing the “brainwa ves of a teenager on pot” as totally flat, was actually from a middle-aged drunk in a coma after a car accident.) Currently they say pot has no medical value whatsoever, and that people who smoke it are cop-killers, regardless of their medical condition .
It is highly ironic that in the name of a Drug-Free America, the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation, which bank-rolls both Partnership and CASA, supports Dr. Herbert Kleber–the man who is suppressing Ibogaine in favor of the addictive drug buprenorphine .
At the end of January ’92, Herb Kleber’s successor at ONDCP, Ingrid Kolb, signaled a possible thaw by writing a letter to Assistant Secretary for the Health and Human Services (HHS) James Mason, chiding him for keeping the applications of PWA’s for medical marijuana in limbo.
Dana Beal noticed in news accounts that her title was Acting Director for Demand Reduction. He thought of people he knew who before Ibogaine were doing $200-to-$300-a-day of smack, who after a couple treatments may-be do $5 worth twenty times a year. That’s a lot of demand reduction. Perhaps the medical marijuana letter was a sign this Kolb woman would be rational.
So Beal called Ingrid Kolb and asked on behalf of ACT UP for a meeting on “promising medications in the NIDA pipeline for treatment of drug dependency.” He brought along Alan Thompson of RAR and Joey Tranchina of the West Coast AIDS Brigade. Joey tal ked to her about clean needles; Ingrid deferred to NIDA, saying the data wasn’t in yet. After thanking her for the medical marijuana letter, most of the meeting was about Ibogaine.
No one in the entire bureaucracy had ever told the Acting Director for Demand Reduction they had a prototype addiction interrupter in the works, potentially the magic bullet.
Dana opined he could end the drug crisis, and cut transmission of AIDS as much as 25%, for $2 billion, or enough to treat the one million worst-afflicted addicts. Alan Thompson told here how, in the twelve years Rock Against Racism had known about and supported the Ibogaine Project, he’s never been able to put together a band of his own without a junkie in it, and how one musician friend after another died of an overdose. On the way back to New York City, he thanked Dana for enabling him to press his case at the White House.
That very morning, February 13th, Dhoruba had returned from Africa after a great internal struggle with himself, to fight his case all over again–appearing in court just as the ACT UP van was leaving for the meeting, too late to go along. Dana went into overdrive to set up a subsequent meeting that would bring in Dhoruba, actualizing the coalition between ACT UP and the Black treatment movement, but also to substantiate Dhoruba’s role and keep him out of prison to continue his work.
The first date Dhoruba, Ingrid Kolb, Grudzinskas and Vocci could all meet was April 10th. Meanwhile Dana spent his days boiling an Ibogaine tape centered on the Nico interview down to 60 minutes.
It was still February when he got a call from John Spacely, in the hospital. When Dana came to visit, Spacely told him he had MAI. A couple of weeks later his HIV results came back positive. His T-cell count was 36. Ibogaine might have saved him in mid 1981, sitting around talking about it with Dana. But it was too late the minute he shared a needle with someone around Bruce Brown. On the other hand, all the years he smoked pot since he stopped doing dope, John Spacely had been free of opportunistic infections, in effect cushioning the decline of his T-cells with medical marijuana. And at first he was able to triple his T’s with herbal extracts and vitamins.
ACT UP Treatment & Data sent a letter to James Mason de manding that he reverse his ban on access to medical marijuana for people with AIDS; he refused to have a meeting about it with ACT UP. A few days before Dana was to report on this to the floor, he called Marty Robinson to ask if he’d make a special trip in from Park Slope and come back to the floor one time because of his strong feelings on this. Marty reported that he couldn’t smo ke any more, but that he’d gotten his hands on some marinol. Marty’d already promised to testify in Beal’s defense. But he was far, far sicker than Dana had expected. “Those boys can’t do anything for me anymore,” he said of ACT UP.
“But Marty,” said Dana, “the Ibogaine got through. T & D backed it. Iris Long got NIDA to fast-track it. That conference we did at City College–it led to research showing Ibogaine works against cocaine–against crack. You made the difference, Marty — You freed the addicts. You freed the slaves.”
“That’s nice.” Marty mused.
“But what do I do about ACT UP and medical marijuana?” Dana queried. “I’m not gay. I’m not HIV positive. ”
“You will the one who gets medical marijuana through,” said Marty. Dana hung up the phone in distress. Fifteen minutes later Mark Rubin called back. “Marty is sicker than he let on. If you want to see him again, best come over within the next week. ” Dana decided to see him after the T&D meeting Wednesday night. Mark called him Wednesday morning to tell him Marty had died.
Up in Boston, Jon Parker had resumed needle exchange, this time outside the main city hospital several miles from Ellis-Hagler’s base in Roxbury. Ellis-Hagler picketed anyway, so that Parker would get arrested only to be immediately released. Dana w ent to Ellis-Hagler trying, unsuccessfully, to get a rep to the April 10th meet-ing. He talked to Treatment-on-Demand’s Moses Saunders, who said they’d known for five years that they needed something like Ibogaine. He confided they knew needle exchange w as a done deal–they just wanted to keep the pressure on to get more money for treatment. But at least on days they were meeting with Dana theyweren’t picketing. And ACT UP New York was willing to fund the D.C. trip if it had a chance of replacing confr ontation with cooperation.
In the event, Dhoruba was satisfied to be accompanied by an ex-Young Lord, Father Frank Morales of the Episcopal Arch-Dioscese of New York. The other partici-pants on the ACT UP side were Dana Beal, Betsy Lenke, Jeff Eberhardt and David Goldstein for ICASH. Besides Kolb, Vocci and Grudzinskas, the ONDCP also had John Gregrich, on loan from the Justice Dept. The meeting started a bit late due to traffic congestion, so there was really just time for Dhoruba to lay out 2 demands:
1.) The biggest obstacle to new chemotherapies for addiction is community re-sistance, due to experience with the toxicity and extreme addictiveness of metha-done, which was forced on the Black community without their say-so. He demand-ed an independe nt, scientific, inner city-based Afro-American study of Ibogaine–an immediate community-based trial by people with enormous hands-on experience, who are as skeptical as anyone. This would bring folks who are unwilling to use maintenance drugs into Medica tions Development; and from the beginning, rather than too late to make a difference.
2.) Community-based programs that can re-socialize addicts and stem the spread of HIV without undermining the fight against high-level drug dealing or government corruption are getting the shaft, because criminalizing users maximizes income from forfe itures. The system has become addicted to the cash flow it’s sup-posed to be eliminating. Dhoruba demanded that 100% of the $400 million-a-year from forfeitures be retargeted, from the financing of new seizures to treating hard-core addicts. That way, i n 5 years the one million most serious addicts who consume 70% of all hard drugs could be treated with Ibogaine or some other fast-acting addic-tion interrupter, for a net demand reduction of 35%.
To point #1, Vocci responded that it would take 18 months to write new regs for community-based trails; but Kolb and Grudzinskas suggested clinics with follow-up capability in Roxbury and Harlem apply to be among the first for funding, and offered to provide grant application guidelines.
Vis-a-vis point #2, John Gregrich confirmed that the great bulk of forfeiture money was going to finance new forfeitures, except for $9 million which Ingrid said was all that Congress left of her request for $90 million out the $400 million for trea ting inner city addicts.
Dana, Betsy and Jeff of ACT UP raised 3 additional matters:
ACT UP asked about, and MDD agreed to furnish data on, sample size and subject being studied (but not location and identity of researchers) in 13 animal 107
studies. ACT UP reiterated the importance of high (99.7%) purity to insure absorb-ability. MDD had only 300 grams of Ibogaine; they were getting 400 grams addition-al from Lotsof. And despite half-hearted attempts to invoke NIDA’s Office of Treat-men t Improvement (OTI) as the proper route for lobbying, Vocci and Grudzinkas confirmed the only early clinical access to Ibogaine would be through them.
ACT UP also pointed out that proposed guidelines on undesirable interac-tions of street drugs and new maintenance drugs made no provision for Ibogaine, which is not a maintenance drug and can be screened from interactions with any other drug during th e brief forty-eight-hour procedure. Grudzinskas responded that Vocci had written those guidelines, and asked to be furnished with a set of parameters defining what an addiction interrupter would consist of.
Finally, Dana had touched base with Carlo Contoreggi, and he urged that MDD and FDA re-consider, and allow Dr. Contoreggi to resume pre- and post-treatment evaluation of addicts being flown to Holland. MDD budged, slightly. They offered to test post-treatment for gross neurological disfunction. Jeff pointed out that would provide for no baseline comparison. David Goldstein cited Dhahir (1971), as showing there would be no gross neurological disfunction.
At the end of the meeting MDD still refused to mesh through Contoreggi with Lotsof, the patentholder, because of the treatment he was doing in Holland, a hang-up that had already set back procurement of supplies six months. As ACT UP said in a subseq uent letter to Ingrid Kolb:
“The ban on pre-treatment evaluation…is bothunscientific and legally inconsistent with the Administration position on freedom of travel. …It is clearly legal for U.S. addicts to fly to Holland, where the procedure is approved as an experimental th erapy. And NIDA wants them evaluated, not prosecuted, when they return.
“[This] ruling…has become an obstacle to NIDA…consulting…the folks who know the most about the procedure: Howard Lotsof and NDA International. In fact, Lotsof is not only com-plying with the letter of all applicable laws and regulations, but in refusing to make ENDABUSE available for casual research or for any other reason except fighting addiction, he is pro-actively fullfilling the intent of the law, which is to fight drug abuse.”
But just for insurance, Dhoruba and ACT UP also met that morning with Tim Westmoreland, special AIDS advisor to Congressman Henry Waxman’s Committee on Health and the Environment. Tim promised to get language into the pending NIDA re-organization act , mandating community-based trials. Dana in-tended to keephis promise to Treatment on Demand, to bring Ibogaine to Roxbury as soon as possible, no matter what.
Bringing Dhoruba into the negotiations did impress the feds. A few weeks later Los Angeles was burning. For a month or so there was a mood in the Bush Administration to take Black concerns a bit more seriously. Dana sent MDD the requested paramete rs defining an addiction interrupter in early May:
1.) An addiction interrupter must virtually eliminate withdrawal symptoms.
2.) An interrupter must drastically attentuate craving for 3 to 18 months.
3.) An interrupter must block the customary pleasure response that the addict is trained to expect, so his drugs of abusewon’t work for the first few weeks.
4.) An interrupter will stimulate the “maturing out” of the addict. The initial REM-like period, involving the firing and retreival of memories and the auto- matic re-editing of memory as a whole is the key to how interruption “takes.”
Beal admitted these effects are specific to Ibogaine, but pointed out that interrupter we know must provide the “yardstick” for comparison, just as methadone is our yard-stick for evaluating all the new maintenance drugs in the MDD pipeline.
When he contacted Grudzinskas for his reaction, Dana asked who could do the now-approved post–treatment evaluations. Charlie turned him over to Vocci, who said he should call Contoreggi. But Vocci didn’t call Carlo and givehim any kind of authoriza tion.
Just prior to April 10, 1992 meeting, the Queens Judge in Beal’s medical marijuana case had tried to force him to trial; and Bill Kunstler informed the court they would bring a defense of medical necessity. The first trial date was the end of June, but the de fense wasn’t able to get its witnesses together, so Kunstler filed a motion to dismiss based on medical necessity instead. The clock was running out for Dana, but he had time for a few more moves.
June was the month he tried to set up a meeting with Joe Califano at the apart-ment of his friend Flo Kennedy, on E. 48th St. five blocks from the CASA office. Flo Kennedy had been the lawyer for legenday jazz junkies Billie Holliday and Charlie “Bird ” Parker. Herb Kleber refused to allow Califano to meet with Flo and ACT UP when he found the meeting was about Ibogaine.
But Dana’s next move was a winner. Howard had a couple of paying treat-ments in Holland a few weeks before the International AIDS Conference in Amster-dam in late July. Beal persuaded him to stay on and do a prototype treatment semi-nar, with Dutch a ddict freebees, in conjunction with the Conference. Then Dana in-vited folks to it who were coming to Amsterdam anyway for the AIDS Conference: Joey Tranchina, Moses Saunders, Dr. Lester Grinspoon, and the real catch, Carlo Contoreggi.
Carlo was ready to quit his job. He’d come up with proof bleaching needles just wasn’t as effective as needle exchange, and at the eleventh hour the order had come down from Bob Martinez himself forbidding Carlo to present his data at the Internatio nal AIDS Conference.
All Contoreggi had done was to sit addicts down with their works and some bleach, and tell them to start cleaning. And a lot of them didn’t do a thorough job, leaving microscopic bloodclots HIV could live in for ten days or longer. So why not just give them clean works? It’s safer for everyone. This directly contradicted the Bush/Martinez/Herb Kleber line. Of course, they’d been against bleach, too, until Jon Parker started overthrowing needle prohi-bition from Maine to Delaware.
“Don’t quit,” Dana told him. “We need you to stay put while we change everything around you. Instead of defying them directly, go to Amsterdam and sit in on some treatments with Howard. That’d bereal civil disobedience. Let me worry about how t o make it kosher with Grudzinskas and NIDA afterwards.”
Contoreggi flew to Amsterdam at his own expense, and came back raving about what he’d seen. “I’ve treated junkies with more than a hundred drugs, and nothing is like Ibogaine. All signs of addiction are just–gone. You know, on other medicatio ns, junkies always keep asking for dope, nonstop. Instead, after 24 hours, this guy was asking for an Egg McMuffin.
“He wanted an Egg McMuffin!”
When Howard Lotsof and the treatment team flew back from Amsterdam, Dana had them booked for an August 4th presentation set up by accupuncturist Rommell Washington at Harlem Hospital. For 3 1/2 hours, thirty treatment profes-sionals peppered Howard, S isko, Geerte and Dana with questions.
But the clincher was a talk by Dhoruba Bin Wahad, putting Ibogaine in the context of a 25 year strug-gle. He said the Ibogaine team, with the forces they were taking on, were some of the bravest people he knew. No, he said, Ibogaine doesn’t violate Muslim teachings. The Koran says any medicine that works can be used to heal the sick. And the word went out in Harlem: the senior surviving Black Panther had endorsed the Project. Doors began opening all over the place.
“Why didn’t you invite me?” said Carlo when Dana phoned him afterwards. “Look, I have to come up the weekend of Sept 14th for my radio-medicine boards.”
Dana thought a minute and said: “I’ll see if I can arrange authorization from Grudzinskas for you to talk with some people who’ve been treated when you come up–to do a little post-treatment evaluation.”
Then he called up Grudzinskas and explained that Vocci’d never got around to the call authorizing Contoreggi to do post-treatment evaluations, as promised in May. He got back to Carlo and told him to expect a call from Medications Develop-ment giving the go-ahead.
“Well, if Grudzinskas calls, I’m going to go public, all the way,” said Carlo.110
“What do you mean?”
“If I get my foot in the door, I’m going to shove it open all the way. I’m going to tell them everything I saw in Amsterdam.”
The upshot was that Charles Grudzinskas gave post facto authorization for Contoreggi’s Amsterdam observations. And invited him down to Rockville to brief fifteen neuroscientists at the MDD on what he’d seen. In Carlo, they finally had one of their own who’d seen it, and could explain the significance of what he’d seen in technical language they could understand. Overnight, Carlo became the govern-ment clinical expert on Ibogaine in humans. Vocci formally made him part of the MDD’s Ib ogaine Project.
The man who, like Galileo Galilei, said, “Si il mouve,” (“But it moves.”) was now in the loop.