by Dave Michon
April 2, 2000
A company going by the name of ‘Drug Abuse Sciences’ (DAS) has announced an Initial Public Offering (IPO) in which they hope to raise as much as 69 million dollars to bring their ‘products’ to market. We are that market. An IPO is an offering of common stock to the public to raise money and is the first step to being listed on one of the stock exchanges. Drug War, like any war, is big business. There is the huge drug-testing industry, which former Drug Czars now luxuriate within, picking the fruits off the tree they planted. There are the private prison companies. In my home state of Wisconsin, not far from my own home, a company from Oklahoma came in, bought land, and erected an entire medium-security prison ‘on spec,’ as they say in the construction field. They had no contract or invitation from the state to build it, they just knew it would sell. The politicians were in an uproar. They were, “insulted.” But they eventually bought it, just like everyone knew they would. DAS is moving on a parallel track: Co-erced pharmaceutical administration. They know the judges, prosecutors, probation departments and sundry other misanthropes will buy.
I have made many attempts to communicate with DAS, all to no avail. Therefore, we shall have to examine the information that is publicly available and draw our own conclusions from it. DAS has only three products, only one of which has ever been used, and that not in this formulation. This product, Naltrel, is a new long-lasting form of Naltrexone. The DAS technology is just one form of a growing list of methods to administer drugs in a long-term form called, “Depot” formulations. But let’s let them describe it:
” NALTREL™ is a proprietary, microencapsulated, slow release form of naltrexone for administration by intramuscular injection on a monthly basis. NALTREL™ is being developed to address the issue of non-compliance that has limited the widespread use of naltrexone in alcoholics and heroin addicts. By reducing the required frequency of administration of naltrexone from once-a-day to once-a-month, NALTREL™ could ensure a therapeutic blood level of naltrexone over a 30-day period, facilitating treatment compliance, enhancing efficacy and improving treatment outcomes.”
The ‘good folks’ at DAS then go on to give us a further insight into the magic that is Naltrexone:
” Naltrexone is a highly effective medication, approved in more than 30 countries worldwide as an oral tablet dosage form, for the prevention of relapse in alcoholics and heroin addicts. When taken daily on a chronic basis and in conjunction with psychotherapy, naltrexone is highly effective in reducing craving, facilitating abstinence and preventing relapse. Unfortunately, most addicts prescribed oral naltrexone tablets (ReVia®, DuPont) stop treatment within the first two weeks resulting in treatment failure. However, patients who are compliant with naltrexone demonstrate a much higher success rate. Unlike methadone, a partial agonist, naltrexone is a pure opiate antagonist which blocks the receptors involved in alcohol and heroin addiction, and as such is safe, non-addictive and free of government restrictions.”
They are working on a similar Buprenorphine product which will be called ‘Buprel.’ DAS also intends to market it’s COC-AB which is an application of the cocaine antibody research of recent years, the so-called ‘Cocaine Vaccine.’ As they put it:
“COC-AB™ is a cocaine antibody antidote for the treatment of cocaine overdose, an indication for which there are no other treatments approved or in development. The current standard of care for cocaine overdose is intensive hands-on treatment with cardiovascular and CNS drugs, a costly and labor intensive approach.
“COC-AB™ is designed to act as a cocaine antidote, binding free cocaine in the blood, triggering the removal of cocaine from the brain and heart, and rapidly eliminating it from the body. COC-AB™ is an equine polyclonal antibody administered as an IV infusion, an approach that has been used successfully to develop products for digitalis and colchicine overdose and snake venom bites. Results of initial animal studies demonstrated COC-AB™’s ability to bind and remove high concentrations of cocaine in brain tissue and blood.
” COC-AB™ is manufactured under an exclusive agreement with Pasteur Merieux Connaught (PMC) and they have commenced scaling-up production for Phase I/II clinical trials expected to commence in 2000. DAS has already received its first patent on the immunogen and a second patent is in process.”
DAS has plans to market this ‘antibody platform’ in a methamphetamine formulation also so it is clear they have great things in store for us, a ‘Brave New World’ in the old ways coerced ‘treatment.’ “Coerced-Treatment,” is an indefensible oxymoron. They clearly intend to direct their ‘microsphere’ and ‘micro-encapsulated’ technology towards many forms of drug addiction. It is revealing to note that there are no methadone products envisioned. I could find no mention of it in any of the many associated websites. Why not? Wouldn’t a methadone product which only needed to be taken once a month be a useful product? This is the medication that America uses for narcotics addiction. It would seem a natural choice for them, wouldn’t it? Apparently, they didn’t ask the addicts. Methadone works and it works well. There is only one reason we can deduce for their avoidance of methadone: Their targeted market doesn’t like it. Their targeted market is therefore manifestly other than addicts.
It is clear why no addicts would have been consulted for something such as this. We are, to them, mere laboratory rats. Their expressed desire is that their products will, “improve compliance.” It’s the same thing when they implant catheters into their rat’s brains to, “improve compliance.” Can’t have those rats gnawing at those I.V. catheters or addicts cutting out those Naltrexone implants. Obviously addicts do not ‘comply’ with Naltrexone administration so something had to be done about it. The layman may ask: “Why is compliance so poor?” We all know why. Addicts shrink in revulsion from narcotic antagonists. The theory that antagonists bind at the opioid receptors to abate craving is a non sequiter because it just makes us sick. Of course this is all irrelevant to these people, these Businessmen. We are not real people to them – with families, careers, hobbies, dreams, opinions, and souls; no; we are lab rats to them. We are the Jew to their Mengele, the Inca to their Cortez. It no more concerns them whether we would actually wantto have this stuff in our bodies than it does when they inject it into their #4 Sprague-Hawley rats. ”
“There must be compliance with the directives of the Central Committee!”
Can you hear it? Have you heard it?
An injection of Naltrexone, once a month. Once it’s injected, you’re stuck with it and there’s nothing you can do about it. Now who would you suppose would have a use for such a loathesome practice? You guessed it, the so-called ‘Criminal Justice System.’ The uninitiated may think that the government could never get away with forcing such a medication on it’s citizens, no, not even on addicts. But you would be wrong. The government has other, more devious, ways of enforcing their wishes and ugly morality on their Drug War victims. Plea-Bargaining.
“They said they’ll drop it from murder to jaywalking if you’ll enter the new Naltrel program, “said the ‘Public Defender’ in the “Support D.A.R.E. T-shirt.
We’ll all be running downtown to get Naltrel shot in our asses every month and, of course, they’ll be making us pay through the teeth for the privilege. The Drug War is eroding our cherished American Freedoms of yore the way running water erodes a sandbank and this is just so much more sand running to nowhere. It is another fight to be taken up. The Constitutional barricades are being over-run and the walls of human compassion and understanding have been overrun.
In an ironic switch of the ‘French Connection,’ DAS is entwined with a French firm, Pasteur Merieux Connaught. They have also established partnerships with with the Scripps Research Institute and the Southern Research Institute. They are in it ‘For The Long Haul’, it seems. I’ve looked at the kind of boiler-room operations that hype ‘Blowfish Toxin’ and ‘Vietnamese Herbs’ for addiction – investor scams – and this isn’t one of them. Their ‘Medical Director’ is David E. Smith, M.D., the president and founder of the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic in San Francisco who served as the president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) from 1995-1997, a choice which, together with other ASAM-DAS connections, casts that organization in a new and unflattering light. You might think that since Smith served as President of ASAM for a few years that he would be sensitive to our concerns. A quick look at Smith’s online material, of which there is a profusion, reveals otherwise. You can begin your ‘get-acquainted’ inquiry into Smith at DrDave.org .
Smith styles himself as a Sixties insider and Rock ‘n Roll insider. Click on “Rock ‘n Roll With Dr. Dave,” and you’re taken to a site that plays a terribly computerized version of the Stone’s “Paint It Black.” If you investigate further, however, you’ll see that it could very well be addicts and MMT patients that Smith intends to ‘Paint Black.’ This addict intends to “Paint It Back.”
He is an accomplished man. He is, as I’m certain will soon be demonstrated to me, a powerful man with powerful friends. It’s nothing to me. The Natrel product endangers addicts, my people. I have no doubt of this. Smith advocates moving the Drug War from imprisoning addicts to what he calls “diversion” into treatment. His treatment. His prison. As he said in answer to a question after his speech to the Commonwealth Club on behalf of ASAM:
“I want to emphasize that I am not an advocate for legalization. My model of decriminalization is basically diversion to treatment, which emphasizes that any addict has to be held responsible for any illegal or anti-social consequences of their actions. Law enforcement plays a very important role in supply reduction and protection of our community from violence, but it doesn’t play the only role. Even law enforcement officials say that law enforcement alone cannot solve the problem of addiction in our society. I have not heard a responsible law enforcement official say “Treatment doesn’t work; what we need are more jails”. I will not say that we do not need the criminal justice system; of course we do. Rather I say that we must look at the causation, and whenever possible, divert to treatment using the regulatory and law enforcement systems.”
We all know what he means by “Diversion To Treatment.”
Dr. Dave’s philosophy is dogmatic AA 12 Step intolerance. It is strange to see such a man so involved in a pharmacologic undertaking then. As his online Bio says:
“He teaches that addiction is a primary medical illness which is best treated in a multi-disciplinary fashion with an abstinence oriented model of recovery utilizing the group process and the twelve step programs of Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and Cocaine Anonymous as central to the process of recovery. ”
We know what all that means.
Terri and I check out every new wrinkle in the world of addiction that’s out there. So it was no big deal to follow-up on the DAS news. Terri expressed a special interest on seeing the good Dr. Dave’s name however. Smith was the selfsame doctor who was responsible for administering a forced Naltrexone regimen on Terri’s husband, Max, until Max had the good sense to head for the hills. The Naltrexone was destroying his liver and driving his addiction into crisis mode. Smith was involved in a study of Naltrexone and convict addicts. Max was forced into the ‘Study’ by his parole officer. DAS has therefore been the beneficiary of data accumulated through the torture of convicts, Drug War Prisoners, and paid for with Taxpayer dollars. This was some years ago now, so Smith apparently has some ongoing affinity for torturing narcotic addicts to have taken the practice this far. This is the kind of man that pulls the wings off of flies as a child and kicks the dog daily as an adult. Giving people like Smith positions of power over addicts, who have absolutely no power, is unconscionable. If Smith has any claim at all to being the Medical Director of anything, he would know how dangerous Naltrexone is for the liver. The fact that 98 percent of us have livers being constantly destroyed by Hepatitis C, and can only try to forestall the damage as much as possible, speaks loudly of Smith’s ethics. Perhaps he just hasn’t read the warning that comes with all Naltrexone:
Naltrexone may cause liver damage when taken in excess or by people with liver disease due to other causes. Call your doctor immediately if you develop abdominal pain lasting more than a few days, white bowel movements, dark urine, or a yellow discoloration of the eyes or skin.”
It beggars belief that Smith would be unaware of Naltrexone’s well-documented liver toxicity. His Bio lists two specialties:
Addiction medicine and Clinical Toxicology. One would think that the DAS ‘Medical Director’ would have some qualms about the fact that their main product is dangerous for the liver since he lists Toxicology as a specialty.
In January of 1998, Donald R. Wesson, M.D., a psychiatrist, joined the cadre at DAS as their Vice-President of Clinical Development. Wesson began practice as the psychiatrist for the aforementioned Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic. It would seem that these erstwhile scions of the “Peace & Love” generation have degenerated into common criminals, intent on exploiting the Drug War on the excrutiating withdrawal tortures of the victims of addiction. What’s worse, Wesson also hails from ASAM, the one professional group which holds themselves out as compassionate, caring and in defense of addicts against the excesses of Drug War atrocities. Wesson, you see, is the current Chairman of the ASAM Medications Development Committee. Is ASAM a fraud?
DAS picked up a new addition for their masthead when they made, last month, Jason A. Gross, a pharmacist, Vice-President for Regulatory affairs. Thus, they acquired a connection to the people who Regulate such drugs and formulations. Gross was, from 1992 to 1997, an officer in the United States Public Health Service assigned to F.D.A., The Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. He was also Chief Consumer Safety Officer for The Office of Generic Drugs, Division of Bio-Equivalence, Manager of the Domestic Pre-Approval Inspection Process. It would appear that DAS has bought themselves an approval. It is particularly troubling, and speaks very ill of Gross’s ethics, that, as a former Chief Consumer Safety Officer at FDA, he would be a party to a scheme to traffic in Naltrexone for the Hepatitis C plagued narcotic addicts of America and Europe. An official at CSAT told me that there is no drug such as Naltrel in the regulatory pipeline at the moment but it must be remembered that DAS only just bought their regulator.
These are Senior Management positions. These men are not lightweights. The Top Sales and Marketing man, James W. Elder, is from Mallinckrodt, where he held top positions in various analgesic and addiction products, including the methadone computer and bulk methadone. We can be sure that my earlier question, “Why no long-term ‘Depot’ methadone?” has occurred to him. These men have not left these positions to join a company that they felt could not get their product out. They know how to get it out into the market. They know that market will be comprised mainly of clinicians working ‘hand in glove’ with Courts and Probation-Parole offices. They know that prosecutors will take one look at this and cry, “Eureeka!” In the pervading perversity of the Drug War, they will condescend to view the new ‘deal’ as progressive and compassionate on their part. “After all,” they’ll say, “it’s better than prison.” Yes sir, and prison is better than the Death Penalty, so what?
Burroughs was indeed prescient when, in the film, “Drugstore Cowboy,” in his ending monologue as the junkie priest, he warned of the coming, “Final Solution,” to the drug ‘problem.’ You can read all about DAS and Naltrel at:
Perhaps you might like to drop them an e-mail expressing your gratitude to them for coming up with such a novel route to death and torture. Be sure to include the contact info for your state and county District Attorney’s offices so that they can get in line.