Could Legalized Marijuana Be Making Big Pharma Nervous

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Ron Strider

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An effort in Arizona to legalize recreational marijuana failed last year. Insys Therapeutics helped make it happen. The drug maker donated $500,000 to an organization that opposed a marijuana legalization proposition.

It makes sense that Insys would be against marijuana legalization. The company will soon launch Syndros, its synthetic cannabinoid drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treating anorexia associated with weight loss in patients with AIDS and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV). Legal marijuana could be viewed as essentially a generic rival to Syndros.

As a small-cap biotech hurt by declining sales of its opioid pain drug Subsys, Insys had a lot to lose from the competition. But could even Big Pharma be nervous by potential competition from legalized marijuana?

Disruptive data

New Frontier Data, an analytics company specializing in the cannabis industry, recently released a report that evaluated the impact on the U.S. pharmaceutical industry if marijuana were legalized in all 50 states. This report estimated that between $4.4 billion and $4.9 billion per year currently spent on prescription drugs could be at risk as patients switched to medical marijuana.

The premise of the New Frontier Data study was that patients with the following conditions would be most likely to use medical marijuana rather than prescription medications: chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sleep disorders, anxiety, nerve pain, chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting (CINV), Tourette syndrome, glaucoma, and seizures/epilepsy. The National Academies of Science found that medical marijuana could possibly be effective in treating each of these conditions.

Earlier research lends some credibility to the idea that medical marijuana could be disruptive to the current prescription-drug market. Ashley C. Bradford and W. David Bradford of the University of Georgia published two articles in the peer-reviewed journal Health Affairs that identified decreases in use of prescription drugs in states that legalized medical marijuana for both the Medicare Part D and Medicaid programs.

Potential impact on Big Pharma

If the New Frontier Data report is correct, Big Pharma could be at risk of losing a lot of money. But which companies are most threatened?

Pfizer probably stands at the top of the list. The large drug maker's products include Effexor and Zoloft, both of which treat anxiety and PTSD. Pfizer also sells epilepsy drug Zarontin and glaucoma drug Xalatan. All of these drugs target indications for which patients could opt to use medical marijuana instead.

Allergan is another major pharmaceutical company with multiple products for treating the conditions identified by New Frontier Data. The Ireland-based drug maker markets Celexa and Lexapro for anxiety as well as Alphagan and Lumigan for glaucoma.

At least three other large drug companies claim multiple products that address conditions for which medical marijuana could be used. GlaxoSmithKline sells Paxil for treating anxiety and PTSD along with Zofran for treating CINV. Eli Lilly's Cymbalta and Prozac are prescribed for anxiety, with Prozac also used to treat PTSD. Novartis markets epilepsy drug Tegretol and glaucoma treatment Travatan.

This listing of companies only scratches the surface. There are many large (and mid-sized) pharmaceutical companies that make at least one drug that in theory could lose market share to medical marijuana.

No nail-biting yet

Just how nervous is Big Pharma about legalized marijuana? My guess is they're not too nervous at this point.

Pfizer, for example, appears to have the most drugs at risk of competition from medical marijuana. However, all of these drugs have lost patent protection already. Pfizer expected sales declines regardless of what happened with legalization of marijuana.

Also look at Allergan. Patents haven't expired for the company's glaucoma drugs Alphagan and Lumigan. U.S. sales continue to increase significantly for both drugs even with many U.S. states allowing legal use of medical marijuana for several years.

Probably the drug makers with the most to worry about are those that make cannabinoid drugs, like Insys and GW Pharmaceuticals. However, I think GW Pharmaceuticals has a pretty good strategy to achieve success with its cannabidiol (CBD) product Epidiolex despite potential competition from legal marijuana.

If some study comes along that shows medical marijuana is significantly more effective than current prescription drugs at treating certain indications, pharmaceutical companies could become anxious. For now, though, I don't think there's any reason for Big Pharma executives or investors to bite their nails over the threat from marijuana.

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Of course Big Pharma is sweating about mmj. I just read a story about the synthized product they're putting out and it's killing people.(Big Pharma Is Patenting Synthetic Cannabis And It’s Killing People) We will never have freedom w this incredible natural substance as long as big pharma continues to lobby and pay off our legislatures to vote down any attempt to either study it or legalize it. Sessions is a moron and a little man with a personality complex. He stated that "good people don't smoke marijuana" . . . how stupid can one man be? Pretty darn stupid . . . his first act was to make CBDs a schedule 1. He and the rest of these right wing paid off politicians have got to go.
Are they nervous? No I believe its just diversion. If you think big money is behind the curve of opportunity, think again. Im fairly certain corporate interests were planning on re-legalizing before prohibition was installed by them. It gave them time to sort it out and roughly hide the trail leading up to their inevitable dominance of the market. These global entities think lifetimes ahead. Ya know, for the kids.

Legalization in Az would mean no income for pot doctors writing scripts, no income for the state selling cards. Thats the only difference. Except for one little extra bullet point. They put grow rights into the legalization bill at the last moment, when voters started catching on to the plan; that weed would still be illegal to grow and posses, as it is now(untaxed weed sends you to jail in Az, no matter how nice the picture on your MMJ card looks. Dispensaries track purchases for the police and call the cops on caregiver compassion clubs.)

..Right around the time MPP(mafia policy project?) was pressured into adding grow rights to the proposal, Insys came out against legalization.

What I have actively seen in Az, is keeping grow rights out of individuals hands at all costs. If Insys was against Marijuana they would have came out against Medical MJ. No, they are against grow rights. Insurance does not cover pot purchases. Insys is not worried about mj taking away from their dr-pushed insurance-sponsored synthetic heroin by any other means than people growing their own for the cost of water. Every old grower knows late-pollinated bud is better. Pot smokers didn't push the sensi trend, they followed it. This is a miracle product grown for the cost of water. They did not let this slip through their fingers in 1937, I promise you.

Corporations have their hands in each others pockets. Az is corporate to the core. The whole game with big money, is to make people forget what quality natural authentic product is (the kind you grow yourself on a small scale, with love and respect for the plant). All so they can step in with Marlborough grade sprayed trash. Im fairly certain I've already purchased premature Cannabis from Az dispensaries that was soaked in synthetics. More on that below.

All opioid producers hold hands. Thats just a fact. Let's go down the trail a bit. Bayer is Monsanto. Bayer invented heroin, and still deals it. The last time I had Bayer brand opium was fairly recent. So why am I going down this trail? Scotts is Monsantos exclusive glysphosphate distributor. Scotts owns Botanicare (Az), GH(Ca) and Gavita grow lights. Insys is not behind the curve. They idolize Bayers actions. They produce synthetic opioids AND Cannabinoids. For decades the DEA was seizing genetics in NorCal. They were not destroying the growers work, they were selling it to Monsanto, GW Pharma and Hortapharm. I am convinced Monsanto and friends are working hard to produce a useless mature looking plant fiber grown in 2 weeks, with synthetics applied. Thats where the wax pens come in handy for commercial producers. And prerolled joints. You dont have any clue what your smoking anyways, when it's already processed, a horrible product becomes that much more adulterated.

Example: McDonald's chicken nuggets aren't meat, they are scraps. Bone scrapings, skins and cartilage with artificial chicken flavoring. This type of commercialism bleeds right over into corporate Cannabis production. People are already accepting the McDonald's version of weed.. i see no problem with them selling synthetic weed. All it takes is a failure for the least common denominator to distinguish food, foodstuff, and food product from each other. In this case, weedstuff and weed product.

"Its the same molecule whether it's made in a lab or not" is already a tired mantra, a fallacy, in commercial Cannabis. Corporate weed: no strains, only blends to make a consistent brandable line. Terpenes are terpenes, right? Pineapple Express is no longer a strain, it is a scent blend applied to reclaimed wax from sugar leaves, trim and literally scraped out of dab rigs. Thc is thc right? Reclaim fools the test, weighing in at 70% thc. The effects arent even remotely legit, but who cares, consumers worship numbers and packaging, and celebrity endorsement. The price tag is more important than what's attached to it at this point in American culture. This type of thinking is all it takes to ruin a grass roots produce with a 8 thousand year history.

For further example, Marlborough does not grow tobacco. They buy the lowest bids from struggling poverty stricken farmers, mix it together, pull out the naturals and infuse a synthetic blend. Big money is all working together to figure out what the Cannabis equivalent will be. Whatever they can get away with is the answer. I wouldn't be surprised if Insys doesn't own a grow-op in AZ and isn't experimenting on cardholders already. Its just a tester market.. the data is invaluable to them.. the state is probably selling it. What faked strains sell and which don't. Im not even kidding, Ive ran across some horrible stuff in AZ, with very un-Cannabis-like smells tastes and effects.

For example: I just found a bud I threw in my yard 2 weeks ago because it tasted so bad and made me break out, headaches, etc. The bud had turned blood red in the sun.. and still had a fake essential oil smell. Being a Norcal native, I blame myself, I knew it was fake from the get go. Curious why they named it Chemdawg I guess. It wasn't Chemdawg related in any way. Smelled pretty dang good to taste like bitter plastic trash bags. That never happens with real weed. Its typically a good flavor hiding out in every bud, no matter the smell! The sad thing is, I see reviews for these vomit-inducing dispensaries talking about how good their bud tastes. So there's that. Fake reviews or placebo people with gorilla lungs, no taste buds and no gag reflex. A mix of both Im sure..

The future of legal weed resembles the present of all legal consumables: Corporations making money off watered down, fake, knockoff, imitation products with big marketing and an ignorant customer base behind them to pull it off. While you go to jail for not having a permit to grow for a foreign owned dispensary. I promise you, the local dispensary is not "growin for Snoop" as I've heard dozens of times everywhere I go... Quality Cannabis is gone folks.. Its all gold labels on dirty chemical weed come full legalization. Insys is not stupid. They are opportunists.

My claim is simple: Monsanto, the highly networked federally connected weed killer conglomo charged with spreading fusarium blite in its wake, is not only making your pills, but is making most the world's heroin that ends up on the black market, most the world's synthetic opioids on the white market, and will be making your weed soon, for both markets.. Fusarium resistant strains... While they spread fusarium. I can see it.. Knowing that the corporate-ran US government piddles with fusarium crop dusting, it really paints a larger picture of what it means to "kill the competition". Parts of NorCal were sprayed 5 years ago, fact. You dont see this in the newspapers folks. This is the corporate government against its own people. The only reason hemp industry doesn't exist in mj outdoor grow cultures is because the pollinated bud it produces will grow seeds with the potential for new, desirable properties. Otherwise they would use hemp [pollen] to ruin outdoor/greenhouse sensi Cannabis crops.

Every corporation must play nice or be blackmailed and go out of business. Insys will certainly have a weed brand under some remote entity.. I'll refresh you: Insys produces Cannabinoids in a state where retailers have exclusive grow rights and produce fake strains. Those facts slightly negate all the probably and maybe of implicating Insys in the plans of larger umbrella corporations.

Corporate interest will control the black market and the synthetic market either way. FYI there this no bathtub heroin. It mostly all comes from Bayer-Monsanto, and is watered down by retailers. Or its Insys Fentanyl sold as tan heroin. Insys is like a brother to Bayer-Monsanto, synthetic heroin dealers on the same team because of an identical agenda to rape the world! This is only my experience speaking. Things more fearful people with longer lives ahead of them will not discuss openly.