Story filed: 13:08 Thursday 19th June 2003
A cannabis-based drug which relieves the symptoms of multiple sclerosis should be available on prescription by the end of the year.
GW Pharmaceuticals says Sativex, which contains extracts from whole cannabis plants, is on track for release subject to approval by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.
Because it contains the class C drug, Sativex would also require a change in the law, but Home Secretary David Blunkett has indicated he would be willing to make an amendment if the drug was approved.
GW, based in Salisbury, grows 40,000 cannabis plants a year at a secret site.
The drug is administered as a spray in the mouth and works to alleviate pain and relax muscle spasms.
New clinical trials are about to start on the drug after it showed positive results in trials held in November.
GW, which has about 100 employees in the UK, has sold the marketing rights for Sativex to German healthcare giant Bayer.
It submitted its licence application to the MHRA in March and has indicated that if UK approval is received, it would look at entering the market in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Announcing its interim results, GW says it made a net loss after tax of £6.7 million for the six months to March 31.
Research and development expenditure increased to £6.5 million
from £5.1 million in the same period last year. Shares in the company
fell 7p to 230.5p.
Copyright © 2003 Ananova Ltd