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The first legal drug to use whole cannabis plant extracts as a way of treating the symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS) has been launched in the UK.
Sativex, which is taken as a mouth spray, was approved by regulators last week. It has been found to alleviate symptoms of spasticity – involuntary muscle stiffness and spasms – associated with MS.
The drug is the first cannabinoid medicine derived from whole plant extracts of the sativa plant, and is only the second drug of its to be licensed by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.
The move was widely welcomed by MS charities.
Pam Macfarlane, chief executive of the MS Trust, said: “We have been aware for a long time, based on comments from people with MS, that cannabis-based medicines can significantly improve spasticity, which is a common, complex symptom of MS.
“For this reason, the MS Trust has campaigned for the availability of a licensed medicine that can be properly controlled and prescribed.”
Sativex was deveopled by GW Pharmaceuticals.
Copyright Press Association 2010