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The Buffalo News: Marijuana-based drug to treat cancer pain is pushed for FDA approval by Lisa Leff

Cannabis derived medication is soon to be found on pharmacy shelves according to drug companies, biotech firms and university scientists. British company GW Pharma developed the world’s first pharmaceutical made from raw marijuana rather than synthetics.

Created into a mouth spray for cancer patients, it is hoped to have FDA approval by 2013. The medicine contains THC and cannabidiol and has been approved in Canada, New Zealand and 8 European countries. FDA approval represents an important milestone in the nation’s relationship with marijuana.

Sixteen states already allow the use of medical marijuana but the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says pot is dangerous and has no medical value though chemically similar prescription drugs increase the pressure on the federal government to revisit their position.

The FDA approved two capsules in 1985 contain synthetic THC, Marinol and Cesamet to help chemotherapy in cancer patients. The agency allowed prescriptions of Marinol which stimulates appetite in AIDS patients but the patent expired as of last year. US companies are developing products to use as pills, creams and skin patches.

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society is sponsoring a study by a University of California-Davis neurologist to determine how effective marijuana is in treating painful muscle spasms compared to Marinol.

“The cannabinoids and marijuana will, eventually, likely be part of the clinician’s armamentarium, if they are shown to be clinically beneficial. The big unknown in my mind is whether they are clearly beneficial.” -Timothy Coetzee (the Society’s chief research officer)



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