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Canada OKs Marijuana-Based Medicine for MS Relief February 11, 2005 Join Together
An oral mouth spray derived from the cannabis plant, called Sativex, has received preliminary approval from Canadian health officials as a treatment for neuropathic pain among multiple-sclerosis patients, the Wall Street Journal reported Feb. 8.
The drug, developed by GW Pharmaceuticals, has been shown in studies to be effective in easing severe pain. The company says the drug also can prevent muscle stiffness.
GW also is trying to get the spray approved for use in Great Britain and the U.S. "The deepness and polarity of the [marijuana] debate in the U.S. is unique," said GW chairman Geoffrey Guy. Company officials hope the Canadian decision pushes the U.S. to give the drug a fair review.
Sativex is made from a hybrid form of marijuana that is low in psychotropic agents but has high levels of helpful cannabinoids. "If you took all your eight-week supply in a few days you'd probably be very high," said MS patient Richard Payne, who has used the drug. "But I think people who suffer MS would rather have a better quality of life for eight weeks than have a couple of days where you don't know what's going on in the world."
FDA officials said they "continue to be receptive to sound, scientifically based research into the medicinal uses of botanical marijuana and other cannabinoids" and would "facilitate the work of manufacturers interested in bringing to the market safe and effective products."
Cannabis-based painkiller on sale in Canada June 21, 2005 - theage.com.au
A cannabis-based painkiller for multiple sclerosis patients has gone on sale yesterday by prescription in Canada, the first country to approve the spray derived from the marijuana plant.
Sativex can now be obtained by prescription through Canadian pharmacies, Bayer HealthCare announced today. Bayer markets the drug in Canada for British drug company GW Pharmaceuticals, which developed the drug.
Health Canada, the federal agency that oversees medical care for Canadians, announced in April it had approved Sativex, made from components derived from the cannabis plant that have been shown to ease pain.
Health Canada noted Sativex can cause intoxication for some users, as the medicine contains THC, the main active ingredient of marijuana.
Medical professionals welcomed the availability of the new medicine.
"Effective pain control and management are extremely important in a disease like MS," said Dr Allan Gordon, a neurologist and director of the Wasser Pain Management Center in Toronto.
"The availability of Sativex addresses the great demand for an effective treatment option in the field of neuropathic pain in MS."
Many people with multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system, treat their pain by smoking marijuana. But the dose is hard to regulate and the drug is difficult to obtain legally.
About 2.5 million are believed to have MS worldwide, of which about 50,000 are Canadian, according to the US National Multiple Sclerosis Society. About half of MS patients say they suffer from chronic pain, the society said.
Sativex is administered through a spray pump under the tongue or on the inside of the cheek.
In 2001, Canada became the first country to adopt a system regulating the medicinal use of marijuana for people suffering from terminal illnesses and chronic conditions.
In the United States, the federal government has classified marijuana as a drug as dangerous as heroin, although 10 states have passed laws that allow its use under medical supervision.