Pubdate: Tue, 05 Nov 2002
Source: Guardian, The (UK)
Copyright: 2002 Guardian Newspapers Limited
Author: Terry Macalister


Shares in GW Pharmaceuticals, the company pioneering research into 
cannabis-based medicines, soared 17.5% to 151p yesterday as it prepared to 
announce positive trial results this morning.

The Salisbury-based business will say tests on treatments for patients with 
multiple scelorosis (MS) have been successful and it plans to apply for 
early approval to make products available to patients.

GW has been developing for three years a range of products based on 
cannabis extracts that can be taken orally via a spray under the tongue.

The latest results are the first from seven, phase three, clinical trials 
being undertaken on 600 patients but they pave the way for the development 
of what could become a UKP250m per annum market.

GW is the only holder of the only UK licence to develop cannabis-based 
medicines and has been pouring cash into research. This summer it reported 
a UKP5.3m loss for the six months to March 31 and now hopes to launch its 
first cannabis-based drug in early 2004.

There are currently no prescription drugs based on cannabis but any 
go-ahead from the medicines control agency is likely to have wider social 

Hundreds of MS sufferers are believed to be using cannabis illegally amid 
widespread anecdotal evidence that it relieves pain associated with the 

GW Pharmaceuticals declined to comment on heightened speculation about its 
latest clinical trials. "All I can say is we will be announcing the 
preliminary phase three results tomorrow as we had previously indicated," 
said a spokesman.

The company has had to increase the amount of cannabis it grows in Britain 
to cater for its trials. GW is also undertaking tests on relieving cancer 
pain and the National Institute for Clinical Excellence is examining 
whether there are opportunities for future drugs of this kind to be used 
inside the health service.
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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart