Just as the federal government is clamping down on medical marijuana dispensaries, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) may be set to give Big Pharma the clearance to take over the market.
In 2007, GW Pharmaceuticals announced that it partnered with Otsuka to bring “Sativex” — or liquefied marijuana — to the U.S. The companies recently completed Phase II efficacy and safety trials testing and began discussion with the FDA for Phase III testing. Phase III is generally thought to be the final step before the drug can be marketed in the U.S.
“GW Pharmaceuticals plc (AIM: GWP) today announces the initiation of the Phase III clinical trials programme of Sativex in the treatment of pain in patients with advanced cancer, who experience inadequate analgesia during optimized chronic opioid therapy,” GW said in a statement. “This indication represents the initial target indication for Sativex in the United States.”
Sativex is the brand name for a drug derived from cannabis sativa. It’s an extract from the whole plant cannabis, not a synthetic compound. Even GW defines the drug (.pdf) as marijuana.
Yet as the FDA is poised to approve the drug for Big Pharma, state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries that provide relief for thousands of Americans are under attack by other federal agencies.