United Kingdom Approves Marijuana Spray As Medicine

[Editor’s note: This post is excerpted from this today’s forthcoming NORML weekly media advisory. To have NORML’s media advisories delivered straight to your in-box, sign up for NORML’s free e-zine here.]

British health regulators have approved the sale and marketing of Sativex, an oral spray consisting of natural cannabis extracts (primarily the plant cannabinoids THC and cannabidiol aka CBD) as a treatment for symptoms of multiple sclerosis. (MS)

The spray, which has been legally available to patients in Canada since 2005, went on sale in Britain on Monday. The drug will be marketed in the United Kingdom by the Bayer Corporation which estimates that Sativex will cost the country’s state-run National Health Service roughly £11, or about $16, a day for each patient.

Commenting on the drug’s regulatory approval, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “The approval of Sativex in the UK is newsworthy though hardly surprising, as the scientific evidence in support of marijuana’s medical safety and utility has been available for decades. However, the bigger question still remains. That is: ‘How can the US government continue to promote a policy that calls for the arrest and prosecution of patients who use a substance that fourteen states and much of the rest of the western world now acknowledges as a safe and legitimate medicine?’”

In clinical trials, Sativex has been demonstrated to reduce MS-associated spasticity, pain, and incontinence. Long-term investigational trials indicate that consistent use of the cannabis-based medicine may also slow the progression of the disease.

Surveys from the UK and elsewhere indicate that MS patients often report using cannabis therapeutically, with one study reporting that some four out of ten patients with the disease find relief from marijuana.

GW Pharmaceuticals, makers of the Sativex, is expected later this year to seek separate regulatory approval for the spray in Spain, France, Germany, and Italy.

In 2006, the US Food and Drug Administration authorized recruitment for the first-ever North American clinical trial of Sativex for cancer pain treatment. A Phase III trial is anticipated to begin the US later this year.

32 thoughts

  1. We don’t need man to alter what God has rightly given. stop eff-fin with our environment scientists, your not worth the coats you don. Legalize, simplify, rectify, save the world; only cannabis can.

  2. It is still sad that it is taking big business to push MJ onto the world scene… $16, a day for each patient seems really steep.

  3. Probably won’t be available on the NHS though. It might cost too much.

    Also, I’m sure it was available to people in the UK before now, but they had to be put on some list and sign something about taking an unlicensed medicine.

  4. Well! Sativex – It’s been around for a long time. It’s Merinol. Isn’t it interesting that they are claiming it as a medicine. That means that it has medical efficacy, and identifies its use as such. With CDB’s it should also be good for diabetics. Go U.K.!!!!! I mean go Germany!!! Bayer is a German company.

    [Paul Armentano responds: Sativex is not Marinol. Marinol is synthetic THC only, encapsulated in sesame seed oil. Sativex contains natural, multiple whole plant cannabis extracts in a tincture that is sprayed into the mouth.]

  5. I dunno about the rest of you. but I fear that people with continue to be arrested for using the plant itself. it is already happening with marinol, and it will probably continue with sativex…

  6. Well! Sativex – It’s been around for a long time. It’s Merinol. You are wrong here, Marinol aka Dronnabinol has been legal in the UK for years and this is synthetic man made cannabinols, Sativex is from 2 seperate cannabis strains straight from the plant material. It is not Marinol nor Dronnabinol or any other legal synthetic Cannabinol.

  7. I thought in the United States marijuana was a Schedule I drug with no medical value. The government here says it will lead to hard drug use and make you a crazed killer, or just real lazy. I don’t know where the tens of millions of hard drug users are, which stands to reason since more than a hundred million people have used cannabis here. But I’m sure the government knows all about it and has everything under control. In the United States, the government wants us to just drink alcohol and smoke tobacco, but strong coffee is OK too. And anything you can get a doctor’s prescription for is also good, and after all, a lot of that stuff is much better than illegal drugs. Of course our drug policy is based on prohibition that has never worked anywhere, but our drug war only costs a few tens of billions of dollars a year. And there are the unintended consequences like destabilizing the domestic tranquillity of several allied nations, violating citizens’ God-given Constitutionally guaranteed rights, making drugs available to our children from criminal gangs our policy protects and funds, like terrorists sworn to kill us that also profit from prohibition. I think our government just wants to put a few million more people in prison for illegal drug possession. This is good for the economy what with the jobs for police, prison guards, SWAT teams, DEA agents and so on; and we’re talking good paying jobs with great benefits! Remember, the government is doing this to protect us and it is for our own good, and all we have to do is keep paying for it and allowing it to happen. For a while I just felt a little confused but now I want to go vomit. Isn’t cannabis good to help control nausia?

  8. Pharmaceutical profits are made and wa-la, it’s a legal medicine now! This makes me sick to my stomach knowing that the hemp oil, oil extracted from the MJ plant itself will always be a better medication but it just goes to show you, if you leave the pharmacy industry out of the money making circle, it’s going to be illegal to use. None of this makes any practical sense at ALL! Patients are being ripped off and at the same time a lot of people are saying, “Oh, this is a great break through!” If you can’t grow your own medicine these days, your a slave to an evil greedy empire. Wake up folks :/

  9. For any of you that may think this is a synthetic watch this…
    BBC Horizon: A Look At Medicinal Cannabis & Sativex UK (720p)

  10. I guess we can applaud this approval, but it seems like a step in the direction of repeal of all US medical marijuana laws, and the elimination of the personal grow.

    Medicines are prescribed by doctors and dispensed by pharmacies in the US of A, not grown and smoked at home.

    We have to re-legalize for all responsible adults. It’s time to Get Past Medical.

  11. As a matter of fact, it is awesome at helping control nausea and IBS which I was discussing with my Doc down here in Ft Lauderdale, FL this morning. He agrees that it should be outright legal for consumption by responsible adults. Speaking of which, if I was in fact a “drug addict” shouldn’t I be trying to obtain as many “legal” prescriptions as possible, rather than the reality that I can’t tolerate many of the ones that have been written for my ailments in the past that I’ve never asked for a refill for? Something doesn’t add up there – can’t put my finger on it…

    Gateway drug my shiny metal ass!

  12. Ok so its good if a company can patent and sell it..but its bad if it grows from the earth? Cool, thanks for the lesson! People remember, only buy processed foods. Don’t eat natural foods, they’re bad for you.

    Aliens will never visit earth. They will see how stupid our governments are. Afraid to make contact without being sold into slavery, to make a quick buck.

  13. 6.Marijuana Nation

    took like 5 years for canada, took 10 years for england to approve sativex, look for when your on your death bed around 2050 for the FDA to approve it. right after they move cannabis to a schedule 2 in 2040. and of course it will only be approved as a last resort medicine for terminally ill “free” americans ! and you better be greatful for that to, surf

  14. Am I right in thinking that Sativex and Marinol are legal because the big drug companies can make a profit from them? As for the whole plant, they don’t profit from that…
    I think this just further shows why marijuana continues to be illegal in it’s natural form – Never mind that it is medicinal and safe!

  15. Yes, $16/day? I guess if we assume one ‘bottle’ of this stuff lasts a day, then its about $2 for the plant stuff, $2 for the aerosol bottle thing, $8 for the bearacratic red tape to sell it, and $4 profit for the company.
    Ain’t progress great.

  16. to 15, smokey…i know right?my doc feels the same cept he would deny saying such out of rear of…something…..damn that.even tho he does not use since college . i say its medicine for the mind…..have a great day to all..

  17. the bigger question still remains. That is: ‘How can the US government continue to promote a policy that calls for the arrest and prosecution of patients who use a substance that fourteen states and much of the rest of the western world now acknowledges as a safe and legitimate medicine?’”
    Because the government has invested in 70 years of lies, and their policy is more important to them than the truth. What we need is a president who will base policy on the best science available , instead we have a Nicotine addicted Hypocrite in the oval office.

  18. indeed:

    why does the u.s. persist with the drug war?

    why are we in afghanistan?

    why is oil going glug glug in the gulf?

    were the 9/11 towers really brought down by nano-thermite?

    and so forth

  19. Mj is just the coverup. Hemp is a trillion dollar crop. It would put the economy in the hands of the people. It would cleanup our world.

  20. See what i mean ? It’s no BIG deal in Humboldt .

    Humboldt Medical Marijuana Advisory Panel holding membership meeting Monday
    The Times-Standard
    Posted: 06/27/2010 01:15:29 AM PDT

    The Humboldt Medical Marijuana Advisory Panel, a community-based policy group made up of medical marijuana growers, distributors, patients and caregivers, is holding its general membership meeting on Monday. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. at the John Haynes Memorial Veterans’ Hall, 483 Conger St., in Garberville

  21. I’v try’d to get on the trial for sativex for yr’s thinking that it is healthy to spray and not smoke. I’m ill and in pain every day, for yr’s I’v gone through most drugs to kill the pain.I’d much prefer to smoke mj than take morphine. Due to all the medication and continued stress on the body I’v now got more problems than before due to drugs manufactured. So I’d agree that to use something from nature is far better than chemicals, having now got liver and majour kidney problems the dr’s take no responsibility for the side effects of the drugs. My pain dr has agreed to give me the sativex however my GP refuses to write the priscription. I don’t agree with the price structure as to buy a ounce at $200 wold last me at least 4wks yet the spray only lasts 11days with 5 sprays a day. It sure is a huge money making business yet the end product at that price needs to last longer to be viable. I’d prefer to come off all my chemical drugs to see if the sativex really works. As i dislike smoking LMAO i struggle to smoke during the day but i do smoke at night before bed and find this aids my sleep and stops my cramps and some pain…. Again I’I try to obtain the sativex through the NHS I’m sure it’s cheaper to supplie that than continue to deal with side effects and treatment to supplied chemical drugs……. Will it be cheaper than morphine I wonder…Really they should allow people to grow small amounts for medical use with the approval from the dr’s i don’t understand why it’s such an issue it’s been growing for yrs surley god put it on earth so we could reap the benifits and not turn to chemicals thatare killing are bodys..

  22. 12 Tennessee Activist

    They can’t successfully synthesize the whole plant material. All you’re getting is the THC. What about the other benefits of natural cannabis?

  23. well all this jaw waggin and nothing will be done as per usal but remember folks u voted these idiots in so think about that

  24. Hemp / Cannabis / Marijuana is still Illegal in the United Kingdom and Savitex is still not an approved drug here.

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