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IACM-Bulletin of 22 July 2007

Science: Rimonabant suggested for the treatment of cannabis addiction

The cannabinoid receptor antagonist rimonabant (Acomplia) attenuated the psychological effects of cannabis in a study by researchers of the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the USA with 42 healthy subjects. Authors suggested that the drug may have a "therapeutic potential for a wide range of addictions, including cannabis dependence."

The participants took rimonabant at a daily dose of 40 mg for 15 days. On days 8 and 15 they smoked a cannabis cigarette two hours after intake of rimonabant. The subjective effects and the increase of heart rate by cannabis were significantly reduced by rimonabant on day 8. On day 15 subjective effects were not decreased significantly by rimonabant compared to placebo, which may be indicative of the development of tolerance.

Rimonabant is available in EURopean countries for the treatment of obesity under the name Acomplia, since it reduces appetite. An advisory panel to the US authority for the approval of medicinal drugs (FDA, Food and Drug Administration) recently said that the drug should not be approved in the USA because the manufacturer Sanofi-Aventis has not shown that the benefits outweigh the risk of suicidal thoughts among those taking rimonabant.

(Source: Huestis MA, Boyd SJ, Heishman SJ, Preston KL, Bonnet D, Le Fur G, Gorelick DA. Single and multiple doses of rimonabant antagonize acute effects of smoked cannabis in male cannabis users. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 2007 Jul 10; [Electronic publication ahead of print])

News in brief

Science: Epilepsy
Scientists of the Departments of Neurology of the New York University reported about a 45-year-old man with cerebral palsy and epilepsy who showed marked improvement with the use of cannabis. They write that "this case supports other anecdotal data suggesting that marijuana use may be a beneficial adjunctive treatment in some patients with epilepsy." (Source: Mortati K, et al. Rev Neurol Dis 2007;4(2):103-6.)

USA: Federal drug agency (DEA)
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has sent letters to more than 150 Los Angeles property owners, telling them that they risk arrest, up to 20 years in prison, and the loss of their property if they continue to allow their buildings to be used for "unlawfully … distributing or using a controlled substance." The Los Angeles Times called these letters to owners of buildings with medical cannabis clubs a "deplorable new bullying tactic". (Source: Los Angeles Times of 19 July 2007

USA: Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton of the Democratic Party, who wants to become the next president of the United States in 2008, called for an end to federal raids in states where the medical use of cannabis is legal, as most other candidates of the Democrats already did. On July 13 she was told during an event, "Twelve states allow medical marijuana, but the Bush administration continues to raid patients," to which she responded, "Yes, I know. It's terrible." Then she was asked, "Would you stop the federal raids?" Senator Clinton responded firmly, "Yes, I will." (Source: Press release of MPP of 17 July 2007)

Science: Pain
Researchers at Novartis in Basel, Switzerland, developed a CB1 receptor agonist with the name naphthalen-1-yl-(4-pentyloxynaphthalen-1-yl)methanone, with limited brain penetration. Thus, the substance, which also binds to the CB2 receptor may have a potential of the treatment of pain without causing relevant psychological effects. (Source: Dziadulewicz EK, et al. J Med Chem 2007 Jul 14; [Electronic publication ahead of print]).

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