I attended the training provided by KCMH on Psychopharmacology Updates by Dr. Robert Julien. He discussed the drug Nabiximols that is sold by the name Sativex. The idea of the drug was very interesting and I did some research. The drug is sold as a mouth spray, developed and patented in the UK for multiple sclerosis patients to treat pain and spasticity and other symptoms. The pharmaceutical company Bayer is in an exclusive agreement to market the drug in the UK and has a limited amount of time to negotiate the drug in other countries. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency of the UK licensed the drug as prescription only for multiple sclerosis. The drug has been approved in Spain, Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark and Sweden for MS patients. In Canada the drug was approved for MS and the pain from cancer. It is estimated that 10-30% of MS patients smoke cannabis in Europe to cope with the pain; because it is illegal they risk being arrested for this. The drug does not contain the active ingredients that street marijuana contains, so the patients will not become intoxicated. In February of 2007 GW Pharmaceuticals and Otsuka Pharmaceutical entered into a long-term research and development partnership to develop and market the drug in the US for advanced cancer patients. Phase II and III was started in 2011. The trials have shown that the spray is safe and works to relieve the symptoms for MS, specifically spasticity. The spray was also shown to be more effective than other medications currently being used at the same time in the trial. For those using it for cancer this is a hope for a decrease of opioid medications for the pain. Those that advocate for legalizing marijuana fear that this medication may negatively impact their market as it will draw a clear line between medicinal and recreational purposes. Doctors and patients are not promoting the drug as of yet, but have hopes it will work and are sponsoring a study by UC Davis. Just another interesting development in the world we live in.
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