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Last Updated: Monday, 20 June, 2005, 12:04 GMT 13:04 UK
Cannabis drug on sale in Canada
Cannabis plants
The spray-based drug contains a cannabis extract
The world's first cannabis-based drug has gone on sale in Canada, and the UK firm which developed it says it remains committed winning a UK sales licence.

Sativex is a mouth spray for multiple sclerosis (MS) sufferers, who can use it to alleviate pain.

GW Pharmaceuticals said it remains "committed to securing approval of Sativex across Europe and elsewhere".

GW Pharmaceuticals has been asked to provide more data to support its application for a UK licence.

Sativex contains the same active ingredients as cannabis - tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol.


GW Pharmaceuticals said the Canadian market launch of Sativex was a "transforming event" for the company.

It marked "not only our first successful product launch but the first launch of a cannabis derived prescription medicine anywhere in the world", the Salisbury-based firm said.

GW Pharmaceuticals also announced its pre-tax losses narrowed to 5.9m in the six months to 31 March, compared to 7.9m year-earlier.

It is now looking forward to getting its first sales revenues.

German drugs group Bayer has taken on the marketing of Sativex in Canada, paying GW Pharmaceuticals 1m in cash for the licence agreement since 31 March.

GW Pharmaceuticals had originally hoped to win UK approval for Sativex in 2003.

The UK government granted GW Pharmaceuticals a licence to cultivate cannabis for medical research purposes and plants are grown at a secret location in the English countryside.

Last December, however, the UK authorities said they wanted more evidence about its benefits before they approved it.

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