The US Food and Drug Administration may be close to approving prescription drugs derived from marijuana. It was almost 25 years ago, that the FDA first approved pot-based drugs, but now other derivatives may soon show up on pharmacy shelves nationwide thanks to the research efforts of UK- based GW Pharma.
The company is now in advanced trials for the world’s first drug made from raw marijuana. The drug is being developed as a mouth spray to help people suffering from cancer and will be used to relieve their pain. The company plans on bringing out the drug in 2014. GW Pharma got a special exemption from the British government 10 years ago to grow marijuana for research purposes and is now also experimenting with additional derivatives of the plant.
Sativex, as the drug is called, has already been approved in Canada, New Zealand and eight European countries. The drug is as of now being used to relieve muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society has not yet endorsed the use of marijuana for MS patients, but it is sponsoring a study by a UC Davis neurologist on a comparison study between marijuana smokers and Marinol with respect to reducing painful muscle spasms.
Marijuana use for medical purposes is already legal in 16 states and in D.C. on a doctor’s recommendation. But the US Drug Enforcement Administration classifies it as a dangerous drug that has no medical use or value. How the federal government reacts to contradictory claims by two of its departments will be interesting.