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First prescription cannabis medicine launched

GW Pharmaceuticals has announced the UK launch of multiple sclerosis treatment, Sativex – the first prescription cannabis medicine

GW Pharmaceuticals has announced the UK launch of Sativex, the first prescription cannabis medicine, for the treatment of spasticity due to multiple sclerosis (MS). The UK is the first country in the world to grant a full regulatory authorisation for the product, which is being marketed in the UK by GW's UK licensee, Bayer Schering Pharma.

Sativex contains two cannabinoids or active ingredients - THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). It is the first cannabinoid medicine derived from whole plant extracts from the cannabis sativa plant.

Today's launch gives MS patients suffering the spasms and cramping associated with spasticity access to a new treatment option which has been shown to improve their symptoms where current treatments have failed.

Sativex is manufactured by GW under Home Office licence at an undisclosed location in the UK.

Dr Geoffrey Guy, GW's chairman, said: "The approval and launch of Sativex in the UK is the world's first full approval of a cannabis-derived prescription medicine and the product of 11 years' research by GW into the cannabinoid system. GW was founded with the primary goal of developing a medicine to address the unmet needs of people with MS and today's launch of Sativex represents a welcome advance in MS symptom treatment."

Guy added: "This is also an historic moment for GW and marks the beginning of the company's transition from late-stage development company to a commercial pharmaceutical business. Today's news validates our cannabinoid technology platform and enables us to progress the development of our pipeline across a range of therapeutic areas with increased confidence."

Under the terms of the agreement with Bayer, GW will receive a £10m milestone payment in respect of the UK approval of Sativex.

Sativex is expected to be approved in Spain shortly and further submissions will be made in additional European countries during the second half of 2010 under the mutual recognition procedure. Almirall will market Sativex in Europe (excluding the UK).

21st June 2010

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