Last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) quietly approved a drug called Syndros, which is a synthetic form of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. Its use is limited to patients who are suffering from AIDS and cancer.
Syndros is the liquid version of a drug called Marinol, which was approved back in 1985 as a synthetic cannabinoid. However, Marinol only comes in pill form. Syndros is the liquid form. Marinol was approved in the mid-80s to treat the same conditions as Syndros.
Interestingly, the approval of this liquid synthetic came around the same time the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) refused to reclassify marijuana as anything but a Schedule I narcotic, despite petitions from lawmakers to knock it down to a Schedule II. In the agency’s refusal to take this action, officials cited lack of proof that marijuana serves any legitimate medical purpose. Yet we are making synthetic versions of it for uses that are clearly legitimate and medical?
Syndros is being produced by a company called Insys Therapeutics, which is seeking to corner the legal market on legal synthetic marijuana. The approved form of its drug is generically referred to as dronabinol. The drug has proven effective in helping to treat the anorexia and weight loss that often plagues AIDS patients. It’s also proven helpful in combating the vomiting and nausea suffered by patients with cancer who are undergoing chemotherapy. Often, these patients do not respond well or adequately to conventional treatments for these symptoms.
The newest version of Marinol is going to be marketed as “easy-to-swallow,” and also having the benefit of faster absorption than the pill counterpart. The drug has a Schedule III classification, indicating it has medicinal benefits and is also low-risk for abuse. Meanwhile, marijuana is still ranked as having the same abuse risk and lack of medicinal value as heroin.
Although there is evidence to suggest certain patients prefer the dronabinol to actually smoking marijuana – and that’s something that legitimately deserves exploration – that is also substantial evidence indicating that the plant-based medications are vastly superior to these synthetic versions of it. In many cases, patients who have been prescribed dronabinol and later switch to cannabis – or visa versa – generally agree that the synthetic version is nowhere close to as effective as the real version. That tells us there may be other compounds besides THC present in the plant that are of great value. But the research on the plant has been so limited, largely due to the drug’s classification. Only one school is authorized to grow the plant for research purposes, and the supply is always terribly low. The DEA did announce recently that it will give the green light to other schools to grow the drug so the research supply will be boosted.
That’s a start, but in the meantime, you have companies like this one, slated to make a $700 million annual profit of Syndros, when it is in fact a sub-par alternative to the real deal. What companies like this have essentially done is break down the plant into its “good” and “bad” components, disregarding its effectiveness as a whole. But of course, this allows them to keep tight reigns on the market. But what it also does is keep the door open to the black market, which the government has been able to profit from through criminal prosecutions and property seizures. And then of course, as our marijuana lawyers in L.A. know, there are the obscene taxes imposed on legal marijuana businesses in California and beyond.
The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.
FDA APPROVES LIQUID MARIJUANA FOR AIDS AND CANCER PATIENTS, July 28, 2016, By Mike Adams, High Times
More Blog Entries:
Poll: Marijuana Use Among U.S. Adults On The Rise, Aug. 8, 2016, L.A. Marijuana Lawyer Blog