GW Pharamaceuticals cannabis-based treatments available

Posted on 18 Apr 2013 by Tim Brown

Questions have been raised about whether cannabis treatments should be available to patent.

GW Pharmaceuticals, the biopharmaceutical company focused on developing cannabis-based therapeutics, has announced that Sativex, its treatment for spasticity in Multiple Sclerosis, has been determined by Advisory Council on Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) that has a low potential for abuse and low risk of diversion.

Sativex can now be prescribed in the UK with no restriction on supply, recording, storage or destruction. The product was recently rescheduled in the UK from Schedule 1 under the Misuse of Drugs Act to Schedule 4. The change confirms the distinction between Sativex – with its evidence of quality, safety and efficacy as recognised by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) – and crude herbal cannabis, which will remain on Schedule 1 of the Act.

“This rescheduling is an important legal milestone for Sativex, both in the UK and around the world. It provides a strong reference source for lawmakers and will help differentiate Sativex and any future cannabinoid prescription medicines developed by GW from crude herbal cannabis,” stated Dr. Geoffrey Guy, GW’s Chairman.

“Achieving a low restrictive scheduling for Sativex was one of the fundamental goals that GW set out to achieve from inception and we are delighted that the extensive scientific data generated over the last decade has informed the UK government in making this important decision.”

Sativex has its opponents – but no from anti-drug campaigners. Instead opponents have called into question the aims of GW Pharmaceuticals to adopt cannabinoids into their vast profile of patented medicines.

Last month, GW Pharma’s newest patent application was published with the title ‘Phytocannabinoids in the treatment of cancer.’ It has been suggested that the makers of Sativex are trying to patent the compounds of marijuana for treating all forms of cancer.

According to the Weed Blog, it is unlikely that a patent would be granted on medical marijuana itself or common extracts like hemp oil. However, the site concedes that until Marijuana is labelled as a medicine, it will be easier for large pharmaceutical companies and corporations to exploit loopholes and potentially patent specific medical uses for cannabis.