Cannabis-derived MS drug approved across Europe

 A cannabinoid drug for the treatment of spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis (MS) has completed the European Mutual Recognition Procedure (MRP).

Sativex, developed by specialist company GW Pharmaceuticals together with Almirall, is the first treatment with this specific indication.

Already approved for sale in the UK and seven other EU member states, Sativex will shortly be available across 18 European countries.

The drug is also undergoing phase III trials as a treatment for cancer pain.

Spasticity occurs in up to 75% of people with MS, a condition affecting an estimated 100,000 people in the UK.

Sativex is an oromucosal spray whose active ingredients are derived from the cannabis plant. The drug binds to receptors in the brain, reducing the nerve activity that causes spastic movements.

The drug is effective in people with MS at all degrees of severity.

GW Pharmaceuticals is a UK company that develops cannabinoid prescription drugs under licence from the Home Office. It partners with Spanish company Almirall for sales and distribution of Sativex.

Bertil Lindmark, Chief Scientific Officer at Almirall, said the completion of the MRP regulatory process “reinforces our commitment to expand this innovative medicine to MS patients across Europe”.