Sunday, 18 May 2008

Doctors to trial pain relief with cannabis

DOCTORS will prescribe cannabis-based drugs to cancer, multiple sclerosis and AIDS patients in a planned NSW Government trial.

NSW Health Minister Reba Meagher will write to Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon in the next few weeks for permission to import and trial a drug expected to be Sativex, which delivers cannabis compounds through an oral spray.

"While the Iemma Government is opposed to the legalisation of marijuana, we do support a therapeutic trial of a cannabis-based drug," a spokeswoman for Ms Meagher said.

"We want the trial to start as soon as possible. However the support of the Rudd Government would be needed to get TGA [Therapeutic Goods Administration] approval of the drug for use in the trial. We're hopeful the Government will approve."

The Australian Medical Association welcomed the trial.

"We believe medicinal cannabis may be of benefit in HIV-related wasting and cancer-related wasting," said chairman of the association's public health committee Dr John Gullotta, adding that it might also relieve nausea and vomiting in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

The Cancer Council NSW welcomed the move.

Ms Meagher may also ask for approval for other cannabis-based drugs.

UK company GW Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of Sativex, grows cannabis then extracts cannabinoids CBD and THC. "The formulation is believed to enhance the pain relief of THC while modulating the unwanted psychotropic and other THC-related side effects, such as tachycardia [rapid heartbeat]," the company says.


Tetrahydrocannabinol From Wikipedia
Tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC, Δ9-THC, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), Δ1-tetrahydrocannabinol (using an older numbering scheme), or dronabinol, is the main psychoactive substance found in the Cannabis plant. It was isolated by Raphael Mechoulam, Yechiel Gaoni, and Habib Edery from the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, Israel in 1964. In pure form, it is a glassy solid when cold, and becomes viscous and sticky if warmed. An aromatic terpenoid, THC has a very low solubility in water, but good solubility in most organic solvents such as butane or hexane. As is the case with nicotine and caffeine, the role of THC in Cannabis, it seems, is to protect the plant from herbivores or pathogens. [2] THC also possesses high UV-B (280-315 nm) absorption properties, protecting the plant from harmful radiation.

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