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Cannabis product to be available in Britain by summer

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UK-based GW Pharmaceuticals said production and marketing teams were on
to launch Sativex, subject to it gaining regulatory approval.

The firm said its application was close to winning approval from the UK
and Healthcare Regulatory Agency.

Executive chairman Dr. Geoffrey Guy said: "We have every reason to be extremely
excited about the year ahead."

The group hopes the assessment process will be finished during the second
of 2004 and that the product will be available on prescription soon afterwards.

GW Pharmaceuticals, which floated on the London Stock Exchange in 2002, is
the only
company to legally develop and produce cannabis-derived treatments.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that more than 10 percent of multiple sclerosis
use cannabis illegally to help alleviate their symptoms of pain, muscle
spasm and

GW Pharmaceuticals has developed three means of administering the drug. The
is by spraying it in the mouth, another is by taking a pill and the third is by
vaporizer -- rather like an asthma inhaler.

Richard Payne is one of the patients who took part in the clinical trials.
He was
diagnosed with MS in 1985.
And although there is no cure for the disease which attacks the central nervous
system, he found his quality of life was dramatically improved.

"My sleeping patterns were very disrupted through spasms and twitching and
bladder problems. They were the main areas which I was concerned about
which were
causing problems," Payne told CNN.

"Having taken cannabis it has helped those areas -- so now I have found a level
that suits me. My bladder problems are much better and my quality of life
much better."

However, experts caution that cannabis is not a cure-all.

"It does need to be treated with caution," according to Marianne Miles,
director of the MS Society.

"But as well as a cure it is important that we look at drugs that will affect
the quality of life of people with MS.

"For someone who has pain or spasticity if that can be relieved then many
say they can live with their MS as a disease -- if they can get rid of some
of the
symptoms that go with the condition."

Because of its cannabis content, Sativex will require a change in the law,
UK ministers have already said they will recommend.

Once GW Pharmaceuticals has won approval from British regulators it will
start the
process elsewhere in Europe and in North America.

CNN.com - Cannabis MS drug 'available soon' - Jan. 21, 2004
Cannabis MS drug 'available soon'
Wednesday, January 21, 2004