Pubdate: Wed,  9 Jun 2004
Source: BBC News (UK Web)
Copyright: 2004 BBC
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (GW Pharmaceuticals)


A drug made from an extract of cannabis has helped to reduce the pain 
caused by rheumatoid arthritis.

The drug, Sativex, has been developed by GW Pharmaceuticals, which is 
assessing the medical benefits of cannabis under a UK government licence.

Tests of a spray form of the drug on 58 arthritis patients showed it helped 
reduce pain, and improve quality of sleep.

Few people showed signs of side effects, the company said.

GW Pharmaceuticals has previously carried out trials showing that Sativex 
can reduce the pain associated with multiple sclerosis.

Dr Philip Robson, director of GW's Cannabinoid Research Institute, said: 
"These results are particularly exciting because this is the first ever 
controlled clinical trial of a cannabis-based medicine in the treatment of 

"To date, GW's research has concentrated on multiple sclerosis and 
neuropathic pain and it is therefore very encouraging to see these positive 
effects of Sativex on pain and other symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

"This exploratory trial provides further strong support to our belief that 
cannabis-based medicines may offer therapeutic potential across a range of 
medical conditions."

The research will now focus on the most effective dose to give patients.

Big help

The study was welcomed by the Arthritis Research Campaign.

A spokeswoman said: "It's not going to cure the disease, but it will do a 
lot to alleviate the pain and suffering of people with rheumatoid arthritis.

"Cannabis is probably less harmful than other available painkillers.

"This idea that people with rheumatoid arthritis will be sitting around 
smoking joints and getting high is quite wrong; cannabis-based pain killers 
should be taken very seriously."

Arthritis Research Campaign scientists have previously carried out studies 
which showed that cannabidiol - a natural constituent of cannabis that has 
no mind-altering effects in its purified form - can ease the effects of 
collagen-induced arthritis in mice.

GW cultivates some 40,000 cannabis plants a year at a secret location in 
the English countryside.

The government has already said it would grant permission for the use of 
cannabis-based medications if trials produced positive results.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Terry Liittschwager