Marijuana-based drug developed to treat MS

May 12, 2004

CP, Calgary Sun

TORONTO -- Pharmaceutical giant Bayer HealthCare has applied to market a marijuana-based drug in Canada. If approved, it would be the first cannabis-based drug legally available in this country for the relief of debilitating symptoms of multiple sclerosis and severe neuropathic pain.

Bayer and GW Pharmaceuticals of Britain announced yesterday they had filed a new drug submission to Health Canada for Sativex, an oral spray developed by GW Pharmaceuticals and licensed to Bayer.

A spokesperson for Health Canada said it takes about 18 months for the department's therapeutic products directorate to review and rule on a submission.

Bayer's vice-president for public policy and communication said the companies are confident, based on early discussions with the department, that the submission will be approved.

'It's our belief through our initial discussions that we hope to get it through the regulatory process, and in as quick time as possible,' Doug Grant said yesterday.

The companies describe the product as a whole plant cannabis extract.

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