Marijuana plant

A cannabis-based drug designed to treat cancer pain, developed by UK-based GW Pharma, could be available in the US by the end of 2013.

The company’s Sativex medication, which comes in the form of a mouth spray, is developed from raw marijuana instead of synthetic equivalents and contains delta 9-THC and cannabidiol.

The drug is already approved in Canada, New Zealand and eight European countries to treat multiple sclerosis-associated muscle spasms. GW Pharma expect to receive US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval by the end of 2013 following advanced clinical trials which are currently underway.

The FDA first approved prescription drugs based on the psychoactive components of marijuana more than 25 years ago, although the US Drug Enforcement Administration still classifies the drug as dangerous and with no medical value.

UK-based GW Pharma is currently exploring new applications for Sativex while also developing drugs possessing different formulations of cannabis after being given approval to grow the drug.

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Medicinal use of marijuana is currently permitted in 16 US states and Washington DC.

Caption: The approval of Sativex could lead the way for more drugs using raw marijuana components to be approved. Photo: United States Fish and Wildlife Service.