Pubdate: Thu, 05 Jan 2006
Source: Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ)
Copyright: 2006 Newark Morning Ledger Co
Author: Paul Mulshine, Star-Ledger Staff
Cited: GW Pharmaceuticals
Bookmark: (GW Pharmaceuticals)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Chronic Pain)


Proponents of medical marijuana got a boost yesterday when the Food
and Drug Administration gave a British drugmaker permission to test a
cannabis-derived treatment for cancer pain.

GW Pharmaceuticals was given permission to start a Phase III clinical
trial in the United States for Sativex, an oral spray for use by
seriously ill patients. The company said it may file for FDA approval
as early as 2008.

Currently, sufferers of severe cancer pain have only a handful of
narcotic pain medications, such as morphine, oxycodone, hydromorphone
and fentanyl. They have potentially serious side effects in up to 60
percent of patients.

Founded in 1998, GW is attempting to develop a portfolio for
prescription cannabis-based medications for multiple sclerosis,
neuropathic pain, spinal cord injury, cancer pain and rheumatoid
arthritis. Sativex is the company's first compound.

The company said it grows marijuana in a greenhouse at a secret
location in the south of England. It said its medicines would be
administered as sprays or tablets, not the customary method of smoking
a hand-rolled cigarette. "Smoking is not an acceptable means of
delivery for a medicine," the company said.

Federal law prohibits the use of marijuana, but several states --
Maine, Vermont, Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Nevada,
Oregon and Washington -- allow it to be grown and used for medicinal
purposes. The Rhode Island Legislature on Tuesday overrode a veto to
approve medical marijuana use.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled people who smoke marijuana
because their doctors recommend it could be prosecuted under federal
drug laws, even if their states allow it. Federal authorities,
however, have conceded they are unlikely to prosecute many medicinal
marijuana users. 
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake