United Kingdom Approves Marijuana Spray As Medicine

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 24, 2010

    [Editor’s note: This post is excerpted from this today’s forthcoming NORML weekly media advisory. To have NORML’s media advisories delivered straight to your in-box, sign up for NORML’s free e-zine here.]

    British health regulators have approved the sale and marketing of Sativex, an oral spray consisting of natural cannabis extracts (primarily the plant cannabinoids THC and cannabidiol aka CBD) as a treatment for symptoms of multiple sclerosis. (MS)

    The spray, which has been legally available to patients in Canada since 2005, went on sale in Britain on Monday. The drug will be marketed in the United Kingdom by the Bayer Corporation which estimates that Sativex will cost the country’s state-run National Health Service roughly £11, or about $16, a day for each patient.

    Commenting on the drug’s regulatory approval, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “The approval of Sativex in the UK is newsworthy though hardly surprising, as the scientific evidence in support of marijuana’s medical safety and utility has been available for decades. However, the bigger question still remains. That is: ‘How can the US government continue to promote a policy that calls for the arrest and prosecution of patients who use a substance that fourteen states and much of the rest of the western world now acknowledges as a safe and legitimate medicine?’”

    In clinical trials, Sativex has been demonstrated to reduce MS-associated spasticity, pain, and incontinence. Long-term investigational trials indicate that consistent use of the cannabis-based medicine may also slow the progression of the disease.

    Surveys from the UK and elsewhere indicate that MS patients often report using cannabis therapeutically, with one study reporting that some four out of ten patients with the disease find relief from marijuana.

    GW Pharmaceuticals, makers of the Sativex, is expected later this year to seek separate regulatory approval for the spray in Spain, France, Germany, and Italy.

    In 2006, the US Food and Drug Administration authorized recruitment for the first-ever North American clinical trial of Sativex for cancer pain treatment. A Phase III trial is anticipated to begin the US later this year.

    32 responses to “United Kingdom Approves Marijuana Spray As Medicine”

    1. V says:

      We don’t need man to alter what God has rightly given. stop eff-fin with our environment scientists, your not worth the coats you don. Legalize, simplify, rectify, save the world; only cannabis can.

    2. Tom K says:

      It is still sad that it is taking big business to push MJ onto the world scene… $16, a day for each patient seems really steep.

    3. Sirjaximus says:

      That’s great to know that patients can acquire the medicine now. The Bayer thing scares me a bit though

    4. Synchronium says:

      Probably won’t be available on the NHS though. It might cost too much.

      Also, I’m sure it was available to people in the UK before now, but they had to be put on some list and sign something about taking an unlicensed medicine.

    5. Manford Mantis says:

      Well! Sativex – It’s been around for a long time. It’s Merinol. Isn’t it interesting that they are claiming it as a medicine. That means that it has medical efficacy, and identifies its use as such. With CDB’s it should also be good for diabetics. Go U.K.!!!!! I mean go Germany!!! Bayer is a German company.

      [Paul Armentano responds: Sativex is not Marinol. Marinol is synthetic THC only, encapsulated in sesame seed oil. Sativex contains natural, multiple whole plant cannabis extracts in a tincture that is sprayed into the mouth.]

    6. This is AWESOME! Now we just need to get the USA on board!

    7. Brett says:

      I dunno about the rest of you. but I fear that people with continue to be arrested for using the plant itself. it is already happening with marinol, and it will probably continue with sativex…

    8. Dion says:

      Well! Sativex – It’s been around for a long time. It’s Merinol. You are wrong here, Marinol aka Dronnabinol has been legal in the UK for years and this is synthetic man made cannabinols, Sativex is from 2 seperate cannabis strains straight from the plant material. It is not Marinol nor Dronnabinol or any other legal synthetic Cannabinol.

    9. Nic says:

      that place that I wonder about

      in the meantime

      it seems that current thought

    10. ck30 says:

      I would still rather smoke my medicine,NOTHING beats the real thing