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Marijuana-Like Drug To Receive Patent For Use Treating Multiple Sclerosis

Tuesday, 23 March 1999

A synthetic drug derived from marijuana received a "Notice of Allowance" from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office covering its use in the treatment of multiple sclerosis. The patent defines new therapeutic applications for the use of Dexanabinol, a synthetic drug patterned after marijuana cannabinoids, and other synthetic analogs of marijuana.

The announcement comes less than one week after an Institute of Medicine report determined that cannabinoids, active compounds in marijuana, likely play a role in relieving muscle spasms associated with MS.

"We are very pleased with the granting of this patent," said Haim Aviv, chairman and CEO of Pharmos Corporation, which licenses Dexanabinol. "Our expectations of Dexanabinol having multiple neurological applications are confirmed by, among other factors, its amelioration of the severity of multiple sclerosis in animals."

Compounds in marijuana, particularly cannabidiol (CBD), have historically demonstrated value as potential therapeutic agents for treating patients suffering from multiple sclerosis. Recently, England's House of Lords Science and Technology Committee said they were "convince[d] ... that cannabis ... ha[s] genuine medical applications ... in treating the painful muscle spasms and other symptoms of MS," and recommended legalizing medical use of the drug.

Previous Phase II human trials on Dexanabinol demonstrated that the drug reduced mortality and eased intracranial pressure in patients suffering from severe head injuries. A press release issued by Pharmos said that the worldwide market for Dexanabinol in the treatment of head trauma could reach "$1 billion annually, and is significantly larger if other neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis .. are [also] treated with the drug."

Aviv said that Pharmos hopes to begin final Phase III human trials on Dexanabinol shortly, and could potentially market the drug by next year.

For more information, please contact either Paul Armentano or Allen St. Pierre of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751.