January 23, 2012
Cannabis Based Medicines Being Tested, Must Wait For FDA Approval
The UK-based pharmaceutical company, GW Pharma, is testing medicines derived from cannabis in anticipation of a relaxation of federal laws banning the plant from American pharmacy shelves.
Advanced clinical trials are underway for a mouth spray for lessening cancer pain developed from raw marijuana. FDA approval is expected by the end of next year, reports Claire Bates for the Daily Mail UK.
The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) categorizes pot as a dangerous drug with no medical value; however the FDA allows 16 states and the District of Columbia to use cannabis legally with doctors´ recommendations.
There are some prescription drugs currently available that are chemically similar to cannabis, but differ only in that they are synthetically manufactured. It is hoped that this availability and common usage will eventually pressure the federal government to revisit its position.
Aron Lichtman, a Virginia Commonwealth University pharmacology professor and president of the International Cannabinoid Research Society told the Associated Press (AP), “There is a real disconnect between what the public seems to be demanding and what the states have pushed for and what the market is providing.”
“It seems to me a company with a great deal of vision would say, ℠If there is this demand and need, we could develop a drug that will help people and we will make a lot of money.´”
One marijuana-based prescription drug, Sativex, containing delta 9-THC and cannabidiol, has already been approved in Canada, New Zealand and eight European countries for relieving muscle spasms associated with multiple sclerosis, reports AP.
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society has not endorsed marijuana use by patients, reports the AP, but the organization is sponsoring a University of California Davis study which will allow neurologist to determine how smoking marijuana compares to another synthetic cannabis-based drug, Marinol in addressing painful muscle spasms.
“The cannabinoids and marijuana will, eventually, likely be part of the clinician´s armamentarium, if they are shown to be clinically beneficial,” Timothy Coetzee, the society´s chief research officer told the AP. “The big unknown in my mind is whether they are clearly beneficial.”
Success for pot-based prescription medications will ultimately be successful, although the path will not be without its setbacks and dead ends.
On the Net:
- GW Pharma Sativex
- International Cannabinoid Research Society
- National Multiple Sclerosis Society
- University of California Davis