Ibogaine Patent Tracker

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We’ve pulled together all of the ibogaine-related patents and published patent applications that were filed in the U.S. or that later may be filed in the U.S. and become a U.S. patent (as discussed in further detail here). 

Ibogaine is a psychoactive indole alkaloid derived from the iboga plant (Tabernanthe iboga), a shrub endemic to West and Central Africa (and present in numerous other plant species). The root bark of the iboga plant is traditionally used in the West African Bwiti religion as part of communion and initiation ceremonies. The iboga plant was first introduced to Western science in the 1860s, and psychotropic properties were first ascribed to it in 1905.

Ibogaine, which makes up 0.3% of the weight of iboga root bark, and is the major alkaloid component (80%) of the iboga plant, was isolated from iboga root bark by Jan Dybowski and Edouard Landrin in 1901. After the successful isolation of ibogaine, Landrin conducted a series of experiments to determine its effects on animal circulatory, respiratory, nervous, and muscular systems, and he subsequently noted its therapeutic potential for humans. In France, ibogaine was sold and prescribed as an antidepressant and stimulant called Lambarene (named after the Gabonese town) starting in the 1930s until the 1960s, when the government outlawed its sale.

A primary therapeutic benefit of ibogaine, in the treatment of addictions, was first noted in 1962 by Harold Lotsof, who noticed its eradication of his desire to use heroin. A number of studies followed, and numerous patent applications were filed by Lotsof and his company NDA International, Inc. in the 1980s and 90s, covering ibogaine to treat a variety of addictions, including heroin, cocaine, amphetamine, alcohol, and nicotine.

For over three decades, Dr. Deborah Mash has studied the therapeutic use of ibogaine. Much of Mash’s formal clinical work began in 1993 when she obtained approval from the FDA to initiate a US-based phase 1 clinical trial investigating the safety and pharmacokinetics of the drug. From 1996 until 2005, Deborah Mash continued her research on the island of St. Kitts where she treated hundreds of patients suffering from substance use disorders with ibogaine. In addition to her research using ibogaine, Mash and her collaborators discovered ibogaine’s non-hallucinogenic primary active metabolite, noribogaine. Since founding DemeRx in 2010, Mash has led a number of clinical trials investigating the use of noribogaine as treatment for substance use disorders. Mash and DemeRx together have the largest number of ibogaine-related patent applications, with dozens of applications drawn to noribogaine as well as to uses of ibogaine for indications other than addictions.

Despite its promise in the treatment of addictions, ibogaine remains a Schedule I controlled substance in the United States. Individuals who seek ibogaine treatment either obtain ibogaine illicitly, or travel to clinics in countries where ibogaine is legal or unregulated, such as Mexico (see our international policy tracker). Ibogaine treatment also has been hampered by its cardiotoxicity, which is associated with a handful of deaths over the past decade, generally from when ibogaine has been used in unsafe or unsupervised settings. 

Some are attempting to avoid the concerns that have hindered the clinical development of ibogaine, including its toxicity, hallucinogenic potential, and tendency to induce cardiac arrhythmias, by developing non-hallucinogenic and non-toxic analogs, such as tabernanthalog.

Others continue to attempt to develop ibogaine despite these challenges. On May 31, 2023, the Kentucky Opioid Abatement Advisory Commission (KYOAAC) announced the launch of a new state-funded program, which would form an advisory council and set aside $42 million of opioid settlement money over the next six years for clinical research into the ibogaine for the treatment of PTSD, severe depression, and other mental health disorders, and addiction to substances like opioids.

As work with ibogaine and ibogaine-inspired compounds proceeds, patents continue to be filed, and the past patents of others demand to be navigated around. In the table here, we set out what we believe to be the most important patent applications and granted patents relating to ibogaine.

It’s important to note that patent applications are kept secret for at least 18 months after filing. So if you came looking for one of the many applications recently announced by a company in the space, it won’t be reflected here. But keep checking back—we’ll update this table whenever new DMT-related applications become public, and we’ll continue to add new tables for other psychedelic compounds (along with our existing psilocybinMDMA5-MeO-DMTketamineLSD, and DMT tables), and post new articles discussing IP in the psychedelics space in the months to come.

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Note: The applications and patents in the table include all U.S. and PCT filings with substantive claims to ibogaine compositions, formulations, and methods of use or production (including to certain ibogaine metabolites, analogs, and derivatives, such as noribogaine and oxa-ibogaine). Applications or patents filed in other jurisdictions, or those where ibogaine is only referenced incidentally, are not included. Where a PCT application has already entered prosecution in the U.S., typically the U.S. application is included. Only one of a family of multiple applications is generally listed, unless the others have separate significance. “Priority date” refers to the earliest filing date on which an applicant can rely (typically, the filing date of a U.S. provisional); it is used to determine who filed first and what public information is “prior art.”