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IACM-Bulletin of 07 July 2002

Germany: Second firm to manufacture dronabinol (THC)

Since June 2002 Delta 9 Pharma, a company of Bionorica (Neumarkt, Bavaria), provides pharmacies with dronabinol, who can make medicines (capsules, tinctures) from it, according to official formulas of the German Pharmacists Association. The increased resonance in the media has increased the demand for dronabinol by patients and doctors which allowed to reduce the price.

Delta 9 Pharma is the second German firm to produce dronabinol and provide pharmacies with it, following THC Pharm (Frankfurt) which provides pharmacies with dronabinol since about three years. Bionorica is a well-known manufacturer of herbal medicines. Both firms manufacture THC (dronabinol) from cannabidiol (CBD) of fibre HEMP by isomerization.

Prices for dronabinol of Delta 9 Pharma (selling prices in pharmacies):
250 mg - about 300 EURo (about $ 310)
500 mg - about 520 EURo (about $ 535)

Prices for dronabinol of THC Pharm (selling prices in pharmacies):
250 mg - about 270 EURo (about $ 280)
500 mg - about 465 EURo (about $ 480)
1000 mg - about 860 EURo (about $ 885)

According to that 1 milligram dronabinol costs about 1 EURo with a selling volume of 500 mg. With a medium daily need of 10 to 20 mg this results in monthly treatment costs of about 300 to 600 EURos.

(Sources: Personal communications by THC Pharm and Delta 9 Pharma)

News in brief

UK: Cannabis trial in Scotland
Clinical trials of the British firm GW Pharmaceuticals with a cannabis extract sprayed under the tongue have been extended to Scotland. Pain patients at Gartnavel Hospital, Glasgow, may participate in the study. Nine hospitals around Britain are now participating. GW Pharmaceuticals hopes to test the drug on up to 1,000 patients. (Source: The Scotsman of 1 July 2002)

Science: Increase of sleep duration
The synthetic cannabinoids HU-210, HU-310, and arachidonyl-2-chloroethylamide increased the sleep duration after anaesthesia with isoflurane in mice, even with low doses. (Source: Schuster J, et al. Neurosci Lett 2002 Jul 5;326(3):196-200)

Science: Cancer of immune cells
Cannabinoids that bind to the CB2 receptor (including THC, HU-210, and anandamide) induced apoptosis (programmed cell death) in a number of human leukaemia and lymphoma cell lines. This anti-cancer effect was in part mediated by the CB2 receptor. (Source: McKallip RJ, et al. Blood 2002 Jul 15;100(2):627-34)

Science: Neuropathy in diabetes
Neuropathic pain may occur in diabetes due to damage of sensory nerves. A key measure of sensory nerve function is neuropeptide release evoked by a stimulus. The synthetic CB1 receptor agonist CP55940 inhibited this neuropeptide release in both non-diabetic and diabetic mice. (Source: Ellington HC, et al. Neuropharmacology 2002 Jun;42(7):966-975)

Germany: Social Democratic Party
According to an internal submittal of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) in the Bundestag (German Parliament) the possession of cannabis should no longer be a criminal offence, but punished with a fine. This was reported by the weekly Focus. A speaker of the SPD told the German Press Agency (dpa) that she did not know anything about such a submittal. The Social Democratic Party together with the Greens, who support the legalisation of cannabis, form the Federal Government. (Source: dpa of 29 June 2002)

Science: Two new books
Two comprehensive new English handbooks have recently been published.
- Grotenhermen F, Russo E, eds. Cannabis and Cannabinoids. Pharmacology, Toxicology, and Therapeutic Potential. Binghamton NY: Haworth Press, 2002, about 450 pages. With contributions by about 50 authors. This volume is also available in German and will be published in Spanish soon.
- Onaivi ES, ed. Biology of Marijuana. From Gene to Behaviour. London/New York: Taylor & Francis, 2002, about 630 pages. With contributions by about 50 authors.

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