An oral spray containing a cannabis derivative is now available by medical prescription in the United Kingdom. Sativex®, a plant-derived cannabis medicinal extract (or medical marijuana), may be the world’s first legal cannabis drug to become commercially available.
Sativex® cannabis-derived medication received official approval by the UK’s Medical and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) on Friday, June 18, 2010, for treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS).
Manufactured by GW Pharmaceuticals PLC, Sativex® is produced from actual cannabis plants (which are also used to produce marijuana). The drug has been in development and clinical testing (primarily in the UK and Canada) for more than a decade. Bayer AG (of Germany) will market Sativex® cannabis-derived medication in the UK.
For what medical symptoms is Sativex® cannabis-derived medication currently Prescribed?
Physicians in the UK may prescribe Sativex® cannabis-derived medication to treat chronic pain, as well as physical symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS), a potentially disabling and often progressive neurological condition. Ultimately, the medication may also be used to relive pain from cancer, oncology treatments and neuropathic pain from any number of medical causes.
In fact, for many years, many multiple sclerosis (MS) patients have experimented with smoking marijuana to relieve pain, cramping, spasticity and other MS symptoms. Some medical experts have estimated that anywhere from 10 percent to 30 percent of all multiple sclerosis (MS) patients may have tried alleviating their symptoms with marijuana.
Sativex® cannabis-derived medication is expected to provide a legal, safer, medically supervised means of addressing neuropathic pain and disabling spasticity.
How does Sativex® cannabis-derived medication compare to Marinol®?
Unlike Sativex®, which is made from whole-plant cannabis extracts, Marinol® is produced from synthetic tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary active component of cannabinoids like marijuana. Marinol® has been prescribed specifically for relieving nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy for cancer patients and for improving appetite in patients with
acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS or HIV).
Can users ofSativex® cannabis-derived medication get high on the drug?
According to the drug’s manufacturers and medical researchers, Sativex® cannabis-derived medication does not contain the active component of marijuana. Use of the oral spray medication will not produce intoxication. For this reason, Sativex® cannabis-derived medication is not expected to pose any threat of recreational or illicit usage.
Can Americans obtainSativex® cannabis-derived medication in other countries and import it into the United States?
Because Sativex® cannabis-derived medication has not yet been approved in the United States, importing the drug would be considered a felony.
Will Sativex® cannabis-derived medication be available in other countries?
Sativex® cannabis-derived medication may be approved, at some point, for prescription usage in additional countries. The manufacturer and its affiliates (including Almirall Prodesfarma, Bayer and Otsuka) are filing for approvals in France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, the United States and other nations.