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IACM-Bulletin of 02 March 2008

Holland: Echo Pharmaceuticals develops THC tablet Namisol

According to a press release the Dutch company Echo Pharmaceuticals receives several million EURos from a foreign investor to conduct clinical research on their THC tablet Namisol. Partners of Echo Pharmaceuticals are the cannabis grower Bedrocan, as well as Farmalyse and Feyecon. The THC of Namisol is directly extracted from cannabis plants rich in dronabinol with a purity of more than 99 per cent. Farmalyse and Feyecon developed a procedure to produce a dry powder for the production of tablets. The tablets allow a good absorption of dronabinol from the mucous membranes of the mouth.

The dronabinol of Marinol of Solvay Pharmaceuticals, which was approved as a medicine in the USA in 1985, is manufactured synthetically. Marinol is available as capsules with 2.5 mg, 5 mg and 10 mg THC, which is solved in sesame oil. The dronabinol of the German companies THC Pharm and Bionorica Ethics is gained by isomerisation of cannabidiol, which was extracted from fibre hemp. It is possible to produce oily solutions (for oral use) and alcoholic solutions (for inhalation with a vaporizer) from it. The dronabinol in Sativex of the British company GW Pharmaceuticals is a component of an alcoholic whole plant extract. Dronabinol and cannabidiol in Sativex are partly absorbed by the mucous membranes of the mouth and partly by the gastrointestinal tract after swallowing of the liquid.

Web site of Echo Pharmaceuticals:

(Sources: Die Welt of 25 January 2008, press release by Echo Pharmaceuticals of 23 January 2008, Reuters of 7 November 2007, personal communication by Farmalyse 27 March 2006)

News in brief

UK: THC content
The cannabinoid content of cannabis samples seized by police in England in 2004 and 2005 was investigated. Of the 452 samples indoor-grown unpollinated female cannabis ("sinsemilla") was the most frequent form, followed by resin (hashish) and imported outdoor-grown herbal cannabis (marijuana). The median THC content was 2.1 per cent for marijuana, 3.5 per cent for hashish and 13.9 per cent for sinsemilla. (Source: Potter DJ, et al. J Forensic Sci 2008;53(1):90-94.)

Science: Pancreatitis
Levels of endocannabinoids in human chronic pancreatitis tissues were reduced. Activation of cannabinoid receptors by the synthetic cannabinoid WIN55,212-2 reduced inflammation. The researchers of the Technical University of Munich, Germany, concluded that cannabinoids "may thus constitute an option to treat inflammation and fibrosis in chronic pancreatitis." Available online at: www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=2253501&rendertype=abstract (Source: Michalski CW, et al. PLoS ONE 2008;3(2):e1701.)

Science: Pain
The effects of nabilone on the perception of heat pain were tested in healthy subjects (7 men and 10 women) in a placebo controlled crossover study. Single oral doses of 0.5 and 1 mg of the drug were given. Nabilone did not reduce the global pain intensity, but there was a anti-hyperalgesic effect following 1 mg in women. (Source: Redmond WJ, et al. Curr Med Res Opin 2008 Feb 22 [Electronic publication ahead of print])

Science: Heart attack
A study with 1913 subjects hospitalized with myocardial infarction at one of 45 US hospitals between 1989 and 1994 was conducted. Patients were followed thereafter for about a median of 4 years. 317 patients died within the follow-up time. The risk to die from a cardiovascular event was doubled for the 52 subjects who reported to have used cannabis during the past year. The risk to die from other causes was about 5-fold for this group. (Source: Mukamal KJ, et al. Am Heart J 2008;155(3):465-70.)

Science: New constituents of cannabis
Researchers of the University of Mississippi found six new molecules in cannabis variety, of whom four were cannabinoids of the cannabigerol-type. Available online at: www.thieme-connect.com/ejournals/abstract/plantamedica/doi/10.1055/s-2008-1034311 (Source: Radwan MM, et al. Planta Med. 2008 Feb 18 [Electronical publiction ahead of print])

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