Celibate pornography addict ‘went through hell after Harley Street doctor gave him unlicensed hallucinogenic drug’
Australian-trained physician had claimed he would float in a ‘dreamlike state’ after taking Ibogaine
Man, 25, suffered paranoia, psychosis and insomnia
By Nick Enoch
Last updated at [7:14] PM on 12th October 2011
A Harley Street doctor who put a porn addict through ‘total hell’ by prescribing him an unlicensed hallucinogenic drug failed to fully explain the risks of the experimental treatment to him, a tribunal ruled.
Dr Peter Brackenridge gave the drug, Ibogaine, to the 25-year-old man who was obsessed with internet pornography.
The patient paid more than £1,900 for the treatment, which was administered in Brackenridge’s bedroom at his home in north London.
Dr Peter Brackenridge (above) gave Ibogaine, an unlicensed hallucinogenic drug (right), to a 25-year-old porn addict
The Australian-trained doctor claimed effects would be like ‘floating on a river’ and that he would spend 36 hours in a ‘waking but dreamlike state’, the General Medical Council heard.
But the celibate addict, known as patient A, said it was a ‘horrendous treatment’, and within minutes of taking the drug he felt ‘everything had changed’.
He went on to experience months of mental health problems, including insomnia, paranoia and psychosis.
Brackenridge now faces being banned from the profession after being found guilty of failing to properly explain the risks of the drug and gain his patient’s informed consent.
His website ‘failed to set out a single risk’ associated with the drug, which is banned in a number of countries, said panel chairman Dr Jack Crane.
‘The panel considered there to be an obligation upon you, as a registered medical practitioner, to set out a balanced view of the risks and benefits associated with the use of Ibogaine,’ he said.
‘This is particularly important because the drug is unlicensed.’
Brackenridge ran a website offering the controversial medicine and promised it could cure drug and alcohol addiction, the hearing has been told.
Patient A first visited Dr Brackenridge at his Harley Street Clinic in February 2009 and paid £100 per counselling session and £1,900 for the Ibogaine
But the medicine, which is derived from the root of an African plant, has been banned in a number of countries (see box below) after being linked to patient deaths and has a worrying catalogue of side effects.
Patient A first visited Dr Brackenridge at his Harley Street Clinic in February 2009 for a porn addiction, and paid £100 per counselling session and £1,900 for the Ibogaine.
The addict would watch hours and hours of internet pornography every night and could not stop himself from doing so despite knowing it was unhealthy and that he was ‘hooked’.
He was not told of risks including insomnia, vomiting, cardiac arrest and serious allergic reactions before being given the drug in Brackenridge’s home.
The medic only gave him a consent form listing previously unmentioned side effects just before administering the drug on August 1, 2009.
Patient A said: ‘I was hallucinating, seeing things inside the eye of my mind and then I didn’t know where I was and didn’t know what time it was.
‘It was horrible, I was panicking. I started having convulsions.
‘My chest was all over the place, I couldn’t control it. After a while, it felt like my heart was slowing down. It was total hell really.’
Giving evidence, Brackenridge claimed the treatment is ‘actually very safe’, and could provide patients with a ‘deeper experience’ and a ‘window of freedom from that addiction’.
Ibogaine (seen above in powdered form) is an extract of the African shrub Tabernanthe iboga, a relative of the coffee plant.
In West Africa, it is a well-known hallucinogen used in male rites of passage.
The drug is also used as a tool by hunters to increase awareness and allows them to remain very still for long periods.
Its current legal status in the UK, and much of the rest of the world, is that of an unlicensed, experimental medication, and it is not therefore an offence to possess it, though to act as a distributor may be breaking the law.
Ibogaine is a restricted substance (possession is illegal) in some countries, including the U.S., Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden and Belgium.
The medic said he had been prescribing the drug for about a year and insisted that ‘practically all’ of 19 deaths associated with it had been caused by other medical ailments.
He said: ‘It has been used for centuries by traditional people who tend to avoid poisonous things that are harmful.
‘Also, it has been used by French and German workers in Africa, and it has been prescribed in Europe since the early part of the last century as a neuromuscular stimulant.
‘There isn’t a licensed alternative for this.’
Brackenridge was found to have failed to state that Ibogaine was an unlicensed drug and to set out possible risks in a website advertising treatment with the drug.
The medic admitted that he did not discuss alternative treatments that were licensed in the UK, and did not inform the patient’s GP about the treatment.
He further failed to explain the risks adequately to Patient A before handing him a consent form to sign on August 1, just before treatment began.
It meant Brackenridge did not ensure that the addict understood the risks involved in the treatment prior to prescribing the drug, and did not obtain his informed consent, the panel ruled.
‘The panel notes that the risks set out on the consent form are almost exclusively physical in nature,’ said Dr Crane.
‘The panel noted from the documentation provided that there may be psychological risks associated with treatment with Ibogaine.
‘Patient A denied being made aware of some of these risks, both physical and psychological.
‘The panel found that you had failed to ensure that patient A understood these risks.
Brackenridge also inappropriately treated patient A at his home address on 1 August 2009, as it did not have facilities for a ‘medical or psychiatric emergency which could have arisen’ the panel ruled.
The medic was cleared of ‘acting inappropriately’ by ‘laughing at and belittling’ the patient and dismissing his concerns he might lose his job, as the panel said there was not enough evidence to support the charges.
He was also cleared of refusing to allow his mother to attend a session, which the panel accepted would not be good practice.
But Brackenridge was found to have inappropriately refused to meet with Patient A’s parents, who were waiting outside his house, after a consultation on October 12, 2009.
‘By October 12, 2009, there had been a clear deterioration in Patient A’s mental health of which you were aware,’ said Dr Crane.
‘The parents had serious concerns regarding their son’s wellbeing to which you should have listened.’ The panel must now decide if the doctor is fit to continue practising unrestricted.
The hearing continues.