Australian Doctors Want Approval of Cannabis Spray

If successful it would be the first time permission has been given for the drug’s legal use in prescription medicine in Australia.

The push to trial a liquid marijuana-based mouth spray to ease the symptoms and pain of MS sufferers is being led by a doctor from the Royal Melbourne Hospital’s neurology department.

The doctor is expected to lodge a formal request with the hospital’s ethics committee when it next meets.

He wants to be able to prescribe Sativex, a drug developed in the UK by GW Pharmaceuticals, a company established specifically to develop cannabis-based prescription medicines.

According to the company’s website there is no evidence that patients obtain a high such as those experienced by marijuana smokers.

The most common side-effects of Sativex are sleepiness, nausea, and dizziness.

The drug is widely used in the UK, Canada and Spain, and is being tested in the US.

It is claimed Sativex helps alleviate pain and other debilitating symptoms associated with advanced MS, including tremors and loss of movement control and bladder control.

It is also being prescribed to cancer patients in some countries for pain relief and has been tested on patients suffering rheumatoid arthritis and neuropathic pain.

It is understood the doctor from the Royal Melbourne contacted Victoria’s Health Department late last year seeking advice on making an application to use the drug to treat MS patients.

“The prescribing medical practitioner is currently going through the process of applying for approval from the hospital’s Human Research Ethics Committee,” she said.

“For approval to be given for the prescription of this medicine in this trial, both state and Commonwealth approval is required

“However the state can give its approval prior to the drug receiving Commonwealth consent and TGA approval.”

The process requires doctors to provide their qualifications as well as patients’ details, including diagnosis and intended dosage of the medicine.

A Royal Melbourne Hospital spokesman said it would not be unexpected for a doctor to seek permission to use a drug that has been successful in other countries.

The Herald Sun also reveals the Therapeutic Goods Administration recently approved four applications by a Victorian doctor to use the same drug to treat a rare neurological condition.

The “special access scheme” enables unregistered drugs to be used in very limited circumstances for a specific patient with their consent.

“There are no others applications current and Sativex is not registered in Australia,” a TGA spokesman said.

MS Australia’s Dr Bill Carroll said any drug that gave sufferers relief was worth a try.

“We are looking forward to the results of rigorous testing that must take place in order to determine whether this drug will be effective in helping people living with this disease,” he said.

MS sufferer Robert Pask said he was encouraged by the possibility of any new drugs that could help manage his disease.

“I’ll be waiting to see the results of the trials to determine whether this drug may help relieve pain, which is one of my most debilitating symptoms,” he said.

Sativex uses cannabinoids and other pharmacologically active components taken from cannabis plants grown in secure glasshouses at a secret location in the UK.

The cannabis-based substances are classified as Schedule 9 under the Victorian drugs and poisons schedule.

By law, medical practitioners must apply to the Secretary of the Health Department for a permit to administer them.

– Article from Herald Sun.



  1. hal? y?kama on

    thank you very much good topic

  2. Anonymous on

    I’m not bothered that that they lie, because everyone has lied to no end on the blood of patients,sure you can get high on opiates and morphine ect..

    It’s about time that someone lied for the patients, to get a more effective and safer medicine, Lord knows that no one is listening to the truth, nor are they acting on the truth and the science, so against my grain and against my morals, let them lie their a$$ off so patients can get some relief and even heal.

  3. plink on

    This was front page news in the herald sun, – I bought it for my worm farm – a fucken ad for sativex. mm at least it will do some good.

  4. Brad in Oz on

    Sorry to burst your bubbles guys (and piss off a company trying to avoid drug hysteria when marketing a new, effective and safe medication), but Sativex DOES produce a high.

    The company’s claim on their website that “there is no evidence that patients obtain a high such as those experienced by marijuana smokers.” is plainly and obviously simply BULLSHIT.

    To deny that a high is obtained from THC administration via the buccosa (mouth lining) defies all the published and known evidence at hand, including the trials conducted by the company itself.
    Put simply if THC gets people happily stoned via eating, a slower method of THC admin than smoking, then obvious question is:
    Why doesn’t buccal mucosa absorption get one stoned, given it’s a faster method than eating but slower than smoking, both of which do get one stoned?
    Answer: It does!!!

    We (pro-legalization advocates) need to stop “pussy-footing” around and stop spinning or accepting plain BULLSHIT just because it seems to suit our needs.

    Yep, to often it is stated that Morphine (and other opiates) don’t produce a high in medical patients, but again this is plain BULLSHIT – in fact Morphine is more addictive for patients in pain compared to its consumers not in pain, who very often experience dysphoria (the opposite of euphoria)!

    The truth often hurts or doesn’t fit our desires, but it is the TRUTH!!!

  5. Brad in Oz on

    Personally (as someone who has smoked it) I consider smoking herbal cannabis to be a sub-standard mode of administration, because it delivers an unknown (although titratable) dose of THC and cannabinoids in combination with traces of a whole bunch of pro-oxidants (opposite of anti-oxidants) as well as proven carcinogens and mutagens.

    So smoking is perfectly fine – I doubt it – but still an effective and easy mode of administration:

    Vapourizing (also via lungs), eating, sublingual, subbuccosal, transdermal etc, etc…are much better!

  6. Anonymous on

    Why does something that is perfectly fine need to be modified. I.E. Marijauna Spray, or Marinol tablets. If smoking it is fine, most the users would prefer to smoke it, why does it have to be modified and adulterated? Why because marijuana is a simple plant to grow. And the big pharmaceuticals wont make any money, so the have to change it so they make money. I would like to see it legalized, but I think the powers that be will lose money if that happens. You think tax and regulate? But because its so easy to grow, why not grow it yourself. I think this has a lot to do with why its illegal. If growing pot was as difficult as making Rye, Rum, or even ciggarettes, then maybe it would be legal. But since its a simple plant that ANYONE can grow, I think thats the reason behind its prohibition.

  7. Unclebob100 on

    When I last checked the price of Sativex in Canada it was $125. for a small spray bottle, and not covered by my insurance plan. A chronic pain patient like myself would have to go through a crate of these per month. My organically grown bud is quite effective, and does not cause headaches or nausea or sore throat. Why would anybody want an inferior “medicine” like this product from GW Pharma?

  8. Dave on

    It would be ironic if they wanted it to treat schizophrenia!