Friday April 12, 2002
GW Pharmaceuticals, which holds the sole UK licence to develop cannabis-based medicines, yesterday doubled the number of its clinical trials to discover the medical benefits of the drug.
Four new trials of the firm's under the tongue spray will be carried out on patients with spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis and nerve path damage. GW hopes they will help prove the drugs can ease pain and help sleep.
This brings the number of patients involved in seven GW clinical trials to about 600. Executive chairman Geoffrey Guy said he hoped to have a further three clinical trials under way within the next two months.
One analyst expressed concern that the size of the seven existing trial samples was small. But Mr Guy said he was confident it was large enough to meet UK and European regulatory requirements, though perhaps not those of the US regulator.
Mr Guy also commented for the first time on allegations that appeared in a Sunday tabloid in February suggesting Neil Montgomery, a consultant to GW, had dealt illegal recreational drugs and was himself a long-term drug user.
Mr Guy said the newspaper scandal was "very sad". Without commenting on the substance of the allegation, he said: "He was very close to the vernacular use of cannabis in an anthropological sense. If you are an anthropologist and you study apes, I guess you have to go and live with them."
GW intends to wait until the truth of the allegations is emerges before it comments further on Mr Montgomery's role.
Mr Montgomery has denied allegations of drug dealing, calling the News
of the World's tactics "a rather unpleasant attempt at entrapment".
© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2002