Beny J. Primm, MD, who spearheaded the development of methadone treatment in New York City and was referred to as “one of our treatment system's true pioneers and leaders” by the American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence (AATOD), died this month at age 87.
Primm, a former associate administrator of the federal agency that would become the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, founded the Addiction Research and Treatment Corporation in the late 1960s; it would become a thriving network of opioid treatment programs (OTPs) in Manhattan and Brooklyn. AATOD president Mark Parrino wrote in an Oct. 28 communication to the field that Primm “could be fierce in protecting the interests of our patients but also soft and elegant in his nature and compassion.”
Primm wrote in a memoir published in 2014 that his interest in treating drug addiction grew out of experiences in treating trauma cases at Harlem Hospital in the early 1960, where he vowed to try to save young African-Americans beset by drugs and neighborhood violence, The New York Times reported. Primm also became a leading proponent of HIV prevention initiatives targeting intravenous drug users in the 1980s.