|02-02-2006, 02:05 PM||#1 (permalink)|
The Erroneous Hoodlum
RKL singer - another RIP
TIJUANA A 38-year-old Santa Barbara man died Tuesday while receiving treatment at an alternative detox clinic that primarily serves U.S. citizens struggling with drug addictions.
The cause of death was pulmonary thrombosis, according to an autopsy report. State authorities weren't planning on filing charges because Jason Sears appeared to have died of natural causes due to other health problems, a spokesman with the State Attorney General's Office said.
Sears was one of several U.S. patients at a Tijuana clinic, according to a city police report. The clinic which is operated through a U.S.-based group occupies a two-story house in a quiet Tijuana neighborhood near the beach. It has no obvious name or signs.
The clinic is operated through the Ibogaine Association, which displays a picture of the house on its Web site and provides a San Diego phone number though a staff member reached there declined to comment on the death or provide additional information on how the program is run.
Ibogaine is a drug derived from a West African plant that can help overcome addiction and eliminate withdrawal, according to some animal research and limited case studies in humans.
But the drug can also induce powerful hallucinations, and that, along with animal studies that indicate potentially dangerous side effects, have made U.S. regulators reluctant to endorse human clinical studies. It is illegal to use the drug in the United States.
The attending physician at the Tijuana clinic, Itzcoatl Medina, said Sears was receiving treatment when he died. Medina said a pulmonary thrombosis is an obstruction in the vascular system, usually from a blood clot. Medina said that infections can sometimes lead to clots, and Sears had refused to take antibiotics for an infection.
Medina, who declined to comment on who runs the clinic, said Sears had signed a release form to participate in the program.
Liza Davis, U.S. Consulate spokeswoman, said the clinic wasn't registered as a business in Mexico and the consulate was unfamiliar with it. No additional information on Sears was available.
It's unclear whether the clinic was operating with a health permit, or whether it was required to have one.
Patients pay $4,000 for the five-day program, according to the Web site, and the clinic has room for three patients at a time.
The association's Web site notes that it doesn't treat patients with certain health conditions, such as heart disease, uncontrolled diabetes and severe cases of hepatitis.
The State Attorney General's investigation found that Sears went to the clinic with skin abscesses, and he also had hepatitis C, the agency's spokesman, Ernesto Alvarez, said. Medina said that tests showed that Sears' liver enzymes were at normal levels, which meant he could be treated.
Dr. Lee Cantrell, director of the San Diego division of the California Poison Control System, said deaths attributed to ibogaine use have been reported in medical literature. But such reports are hard to document because much of the ibogaine treatment is done clandestinely.
A pronounced drop in blood pressure with large doses, seizures and cardiovascular collapse are all things that have been reported, Cantrell said. But it can be difficult to tease out what role ibogaine might play in a patient death because these are people who are drug addicts, and may have had risk factors as well.
The fact is that there are still not any well-established treatment guidelines for this drug we haven't worked the bugs out or even determined if it has a role in patient therapy.
On its Web site, the association says it moved its clinic from Mexico City to Playas de Tijuana in 2004.
Though ibogaine is listed alongside LSD and heroin on the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's Schedule 1 of banned substances, the drug has a following among self-help addiction recovery groups and some scientists.
Several clinics have sprung up in the Caribbean, Panama and other countries where ibogaine is legal or at least tolerated, including the Ibogaine Association clinic in Tijuana. Last year, a group of researchers at the University of Miami announced plans to conduct a small safety test of the drug in humans.