Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Cannabis Based Medicine (Sativex®) Relieves Spasms And Stiffness In People With Multiple Sclerosis

Today, a leading neurology journal - European Journal of Neurology (EJN) reports a study1 which shows that Sativex, a cannabis based medicine, significantly reduces intractable spasms and stiffness (spasticity) in people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

Spasticity is one of the most common symptoms of MS, occurring in up to 84% of patients1. Spasticity can severely impact quality of life and is one of the most difficult symptoms of MS to treat1.

The study, a randomised, double-blind trial, led by Professor Christine Collin from the Royal Berkshire and Battle NHS Trust, Reading, UK, saw Sativex or placebo added to existing anti-spasticity medication. Sativex demonstrated significant superiority to placebo in reducing spasticity (p<0.05). Further, the addition of Sativex produced a more than 30% improvement in spasticity in 40% of the people treated1.

Fern Andrews, a person with MS who has participated in clinical trials with Sativex, commented: "Spasticity can make the simple daily activities that most people take for granted, seem daunting. Just dressing and moving around the home can be difficult and I often have to rely on a carer for support. With Sativex, I'm able to choose how much I take depending on how bad my symptoms are - which is a real benefit".

Christine Jones, Chief Executive of the MS Trust said, "Effective relief of spasticity is extremely important to people with MS. Spasticity and muscle spasms are not only distressing and painful, they can have a negative impact on quality of life. The results of this study add to the growing body of evidence that cannabis-based medicines can be effective in helping to relieve this common symptom of MS."

About the study published in the European Journal of Neurology:

The six week study was conducted in 189 MS patients, all of whom were experiencing significant levels of spasticity and had failed to gain adequate relief from currently available anti-spasticity medications. Patients enrolled in the study continued to take their existing medication throughout the trial1.


Sativex (THC:CBD), an endocannabinoid system modulator, is derived from whole plant extracts of two specifically bred cannabis plant varieties. The extracts are combined to produce a standardised formulation containing two major components of cannabis, the cannabinoids D9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

Sativex is formulated into a pump action oromucosal (mouth) spray designed for self-administration by the patient This formulation allows for flexible dosing, ideal for the variable nature of MS. Each spray of Sativex delivers a fixed dose of 2.7mg THC and 2.5mg CBD. Sativex was generally well tolerated in the study.

Sativex has been developed by UK-based GW Pharmaceuticals plc. It is approved as a prescription medicine in Canada for the symptomatic relief of neuropathic pain in adults with MS. Sativex is currently being reviewed by European regulatory authorities for the symptomatic relief of spasticity in MS and, on approval, will be exclusively marketed by Bayer HealthCare in the UK.


Spasticity results from more than one group of muscles contracting incorrectly, causing spasms or stiffness. Spasms are uncontrollable muscle contractions and can be painful. They can be a particular problem at night causing disruption of sleep. Limbs may shoot away or bend upwards towards the body and severe spasms may make the back arch off the bed or chair.

Stiffness of the limbs is common and can make it difficult to perform normal activities, particularly delicate movements of the hand and fingers. If the leg muscles are affected it can make walking difficult. Pain can be associated with spasticity. Current treatments are often only partially helpful.

About Bayer HealthCare:

Bayer HealthCare, a subsidiary of Bayer AG, is one of the world's leading, innovative companies in the healthcare and medical products industry and is based in Leverkusen, Germany. The company combines the global activities of the Animal Health, Consumer Care, Diabetes Care, and Pharmaceuticals divisions. The Pharmaceuticals division, Bayer Schering Pharma AG, comprises the following business units: Women's Healthcare, Diagnostic Imaging, Specialized Therapeutics, Hematology/Cardiology, Primary Care, and Oncology. Bayer HealthCare's aim is to discover and manufacture products that will improve human and animal health worldwide. The products enhance well-being and quality of life by diagnosing, preventing and treating diseases.

About GW Pharmaceuticals plc:

GW Pharmaceuticals plc is licensed by the UK Home Office to undertake a pharmaceutical research and development programme to develop non-smoked cannabis-based prescription medicines. GW's shares are publicly traded on AiM, a market on the London Stock Exchange.

GW's clinical research program is being carried out by a team of pharmaceutical professionals experienced in drug development and, in particular, the development of plant-based medicines and drug delivery systems.


1. Collin C et al. Randomised controlled trial of cannabis based medicine in spasticity caused by Multiple Sclerosis. European Journal of Neurology, March 07