|The first medicinal product based on cannabis was filed for approval in Britain yesterday, and could be widely available in a year's time.|
Sativex, based on cannabis extract, is aimed at multiple sclerosis sufferers and is intended to treat the muscle stiffness associated with the condition.
The drug has been developed by GW Pharma, which is growing 11 acres of cannabis under glass at a secret location somewhere in Britain.
Some patients already use Sativex, which is imported from Canada where it is already approved, but British approval would make it far more widely available. At present most sufferers pay around £4 a day for the drug.
A spokesman for the MS Society said a "very significant number" of Britain's 85,000 sufferers could benefit from using the drug, which at present is not available to many. "
People with MS are sourcing raw cannabis of whatever quality from goodness knows where and running goodness knows what risks," he said. "It is important that we do see properly tested, effective, cannabis-based drugs."
The drug has already been filed for approval once, but British regulators said they required more information.
Yesterday, Stephen Wright, of GW Pharma, said he was confident in the new data the company had obtained.
''We have a sizeable body of positive clinical data to support the efficacy and safety of Sativex in MS spasticity," he said. He believed that the drug would be widely available within 12 to 15 months.