stumbles

Cannabis / Marijuana, STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
In the Race to 'Medicalize' Cannabis, Big Pharma Stumbles
By Staff News & Analysis - January 09, 2015

GW Pharmaceuticals (GWPH) Falls as Cannabis Drug Fails Key Cancer Pain Study … GW Pharmaceuticals (GWPH), a British biopharmaceutical company dedicated to developing therapeutics derived from marijuana, released news today pertaining to its first Phase III trial for cancer pain drug Sativex. The product was used as an adjunctive treatment to optimized chronic opioid therapy during experimentation. GW Pharmaceuticals and Otsuka Pharmaceutical Development & Commercialization, Inc., have announced that the drug did not meet its primary endpoint. – BioSpace.Com

Dominant Social Theme: When we can turn cannabis into a chemical, then we'll really have a cure.

Free-Market Analysis: The big problem with modern Western medicine is that everything has to be turned into a chemical before it can be marketed. No chemical, no profit, as no one can patent a plant.

But if you can mimic the effects of that plant, without using the plant, or use the plant in another form that is radically different, then maybe you can patent the outcome and make a lot of money.

And Big Pharma does indeed make money – in between poisoning patients with unfortunately concocted chemical substances that have various "side effects" that can show up years after the initial rollout.

And please remember that the "side effect" is what the manufacturer claims it is. A side effect is nothing more than "another" effect. The manufacturer gets to pick and choose what effects are intended. The rest – and there may be many – are literally pushed to the side.

That doesn't mean they cease to exist.

Anyway, this is Western medicine's big flaw. Call it the "chemicalization" of medicine. The natural products on which most Western medicine is built may have various effects as well, but surely chemical effects are more unpredictable and noxious.

Cannabis is certainly a prime candidate for a chemical transmutation. The only trouble here is that the original is pretty damn good and available the world over. But that doesn't stop Big Pharma from trying …

Here's more from the article:

Reuters reported that shares of GW Pharmaceuticals fell as much as 21 percent today. However, results from two additional Phase 3 studies are expected later this year, and their data could potentially allow the drug to be submitted for treating pain with advanced cancer.

… In April 2011, GW licensed to Novartis the rights to commercialise nabiximols in Asia (excluding China and Japan), Africa and the Middle East (excluding Israel).

… "We believe that cannabinoid therapy offers a potentially novel approach as a co-analgesic to provide pain relief beyond opioid therapy," said Marie Fallon, principal investigator. "Too many patients with advanced cancer do not attain adequate pain relief from an opioid regimen, or experience unacceptable opioid side effects."

Sativex, an investigational product, is composed of two cannabinoids: cannabidiol and delta 9 tetrahydrocannabinol. It is administered through an oromucosal spray, and its primary goal is to relieve cancer pain.

In April 2014, the drug received Fast Track Designation from the FDA. This designation is given to drugs that are intended to treat serious or life threatening conditions and address unmet medical needs.

Let's see … There is a perfectly good substance that alleviates the pain of cancer and cancer treatments. It's called "cannabis" and comes in various forms.

So why is it necessary to turn cannabis into a spray? What's the point?

Of course, the point is that it can be licensed. Even if this "drug" is a good deal less effective than cannabis, it can be bought or sold as a patented product for lots of cash.

From Wikipedia:

Nabiximols (trade name Sativex) is a patented cannabinoid oromucosal mouth spray developed by the UK company GW Pharmaceuticals for multiple sclerosis (MS) patients, who can use it to alleviate neuropathic pain, spasticity, overactive bladder, and other symptoms.

Nabiximols is distinct from all other pharmaceutically produced cannabinoids currently available because it is a mixture of compounds derived from Cannabis plants, rather than a mono-molecular synthetic product.

The drug is a pharmaceutical product standardised in composition, formulation, and dose, although it is still effectively a tincture of the cannabis plant. Its principal active cannabinoid components are the cannabinoids: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

The product is formulated as an oromucosal spray which is administered by spraying into the mouth … Nabiximols is also being developed in Phase III trials as a potential treatment to alleviate pain due to cancer. It has also been researched in various models of peripheral and central neuropathic pain.

We can see from the above that Sativex is basically cannabis in some form or other. But why extract the THC and CBD and turn it into a mouth spray? We would bet that by doing do, some critical elements of the plant's effectiveness are at least diminished. Seems that way.

This is not just our point of view. In 1988, DEA Administrative Judge Francis Young noted in a ruling: "Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within a supervised routine of medical care."

There probably are numerous ways to administer cannabis safely and effectively. But the mania to change cannabis – to medicalize it – via artificial extracts and "modern" delivery methods may prove to have diminishing returns.

After Thoughts

Of course, any kind of patented return is bound to be lucrative. And so Big Pharma's race will go on …

Posted in Cannabis / Marijuana, STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
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