The FDA has approved a cannabinoid oral solution for the treatment of anorexia and weight loss in AIDS patients for the first time. The pharmaceutical, known as Dronabinol has previously been used in capsule form both for AIDS patients and those suffering severe nausea and vomiting following chemotherapy. The new, liquid version is faster-acting than the capsules says Modern Medicine Network.
The new, liquid version of Dronabinol is to be marketed under the brand-name “Syndros”, and pharmaceutical company Insys says it hope to make prescribers aware of the improved product profile of the THC-based pharmaceutical.
DEA Scheduling decision will be influential
The DEA must still allocate a drug schedule to the new pharmaceutical, and its makers are hoping it can get through as a schedule III medication rather than being allocated a schedule II rating that will net the new product 20 – 25% less sales.
Ironically, THC from herbal cannabis is still allocated a Schedule I status, meaning that it theoretically has no accepted medical uses, while cannabinoid-based pharmaceuticals approved by the FDA generally get a Schedule II ranking. Clearly, the DEA needs to re-think it’s scheduling of herbal cannabis too.
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Why Insys chose a liquid formulation
Because Syndros is a liquid, it will not only be easier for patients suffering from nausea to tolerate and absorb more quickly into the system, it will also allow for a “titration” process in which patients begin with a very low dose, slowly increasing it until they find the dosage that works to control their symptoms.
However, physicians have been warned of the psychiatric and physical side-effects of THC and are being asked to weigh potential benefits against risks before prescribing.
Las Cruces Sun-News says CBD may work just as well
The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that THC isn’t the only cannabinoid with nausea supressing and appetite regulating properties. CBD, it says, has many of the advantages of THC without the drawbacks – including the high – and since hemp products are available without the need for prescriptions, just about anybody can access CBD.
Of course, it would be difficult to know just how much CBD there is in such products, and this particular cannabinoid is not yet FDA approved as a treatment for those with eating disorders while psychoactive Syndos is.
The argument in favour of and against cannabinoid pharmaceuticals
Although many cannabis activists may think that pharma is reinventing the wheel, there is a strong argument in favour of cannabis pharmaceuticals.
Firstly, the drugs would be produced under scientific supervision and would offer very uniform, very carefully measured dosing. Secondly, safety concerns could be addressed through clinical trials, leaving us with a list of contraindications such as that we see for Syndos. Last but not least, pharmaceuticals also have to show a fair amount of efficacy before they can be approved by the FDA. It’s not just a matter of hearsay.
On the other side of the argument are those who say cannabis has been used as medicine for thousands of years, and that turning it into expensive pharmaceutical products simply isn’t necessary. And there are many who say adults should be able to try any medical treatment whatsoever on themselves, even without FDA approval.
Where do you stand in this debate?