Cannabis might be nature’s most pungent painkiller and a very effective one at that. It can work to not only help to dull chronic pain but quite often users report it heightens their mood while it is at it. High spirits are a pretty useful side effect since chronic pain can be a good mood killing, energy killer. And with a topical application (applying cannabis-infused compounds directly to the skin) light abrasions and deep tissue pain can be helped too. So it should come as no real surprise that Big Pharma is getting into the ring to get a piece of the pain killing action.
Pharmaceutical companies trying to harness the power of pot is not a new thing. Marinol is a Food and Drug Administration approved pill that was developed to help people with AIDS gain an appetite and to assist in easing nausea and vomiting in cancer patients. And there are three big companies trying to crack the synthesized version of CBD or THC – whatever the hell they can figure out first.
GW is probably the least terrible of the three companies, on paper at least. GW already has a cannabis inspired product called Sativex, which is a spray for the mouth with the synthetic THC and CBD infused right on in there. GW Pharmaceuticals is also reportedly the closest to market with their new, fancy, pharma-grade weed pill, Epidiolex. Honestly, when you visit their website, you get the idea that they might actually care, which is somewhat refreshing. According to them Epidiolex info page, “GW is committed to developing new medicines to treat rare, treatment-resistant epilepsy conditions where there are limited or in some cases, no approved treatment options…including Dravet syndrome, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC) and Infantile Spasms (IS).”
Bial, Bial, Bial. Once upon a time, there was a company named Bial, a Portuguese based business, that ran a clinical trial of their synthetic marijuana drug through another company called Biotrial. Biotrial tested the drug, called in France. Eight new participants entered the study on January 6, 2016, and were administered doses of either BIA 10-2474 or a placebo which were to be slowly increased throughout the trial to test efficacy, side effects, etc. On January 10, 2016 one participant began to feel ill, suffering from blurred vision and headache, and he was taken to the hospital for further evaluation. The next morning, the remaining 7 participants were administered their doses as usual and an hour later Biotrial received word from their participant that had been under the weather. He hadn’t gotten any better overnight and in fact, his condition had worsened to the point that doctors were now calling for an MRI.
Seriously. Four more participants got sick that day and the trial was stopped, indefinitely.
Once, Insys donated half a million dollars to prevent cannabis from becoming legal in Arizona. HALF A MILLION ANTI-MARIJUANA DOLLARS. Seems offbeat then, that Insys has applied for preliminary approval by the Drug Enforcement Agency – and they got it – on their very own branded marijuana pill called
The Syndros pill’s formulation is attempting to replicate the THC molecule. When administered to patients the hopes are they it will aid in appetite issues, nausea and vomiting in patients with chronic maladies.
So what is happening now?
Well, GW Pharmaceuticals product Epidiolex is currently being tested in 15 different clinical trials, several of which are still recruiting. GW Pharma explains they have two different sets of trials going on. The first, “FDA-authorized clinical trials program” is testing safety and efficacy and the second, “FDA-authorized, independent Physician-led program or Expanded Access” where their investigational drug can be administered to patients who are immediately in danger of losing their life and/or have tried other treatments and medications to no avail. So far their data is showing significant improvement for patients utilizing Epidiolex. And while we don’t understand why all 50 states won’t just legalize cannabis for medical use (at the very least) so that everyone could have access to the healing properties it possess – we do appreciate the hard work scientists are putting in to try to bring those healing properties to a public that can’t necessarily legally use cannabis.
This post was originally published on June 17, 2018, it was updated on June 19, 2018.