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Bayer And I Go To Pot

GW Pharmaceuticals
GW Pharmaceuticals

I didn’t inhale.

It’s the truth. I swear. I have never ever taken a toke on a joint or even a cigarette. Growing up, my parents were both smokers and I think I developed such a distaste for the constant cloud that it just never held any appeal for me. And mind you, this was before people had any qualms about smoking in enclosed areas. My folks would light up in the car, in the livingroom, you name it.

But getting back to pot.

As I think I might have mentioned before, the closest I came to inhaling was when I was in the USC Trojan Marching Band and got stuck on a road trip on the so-called “Magic Bus.” If there are any former Trojan bandies out there reading this, you know what I’m talking about. The rest of you can probably draw your own conclusions. Let’s just say I got a "contact high."

I just wanted to clear the air before you read this blog entry, lest you think I’ve got any skin in this game. The only experience I have with marijuana for medicinal purposes is my uncle slipping some joints to my grandmother when she was battling cancer. I was a teenager at the time. I never saw it or smelled it. It’s family lore.

So, here’s the deal.

A British company called GW Pharmaceuticals (it doesn’t trade in the States) has an oral spray Sativex made with marijuana. I featured an exec from the company a few years ago in a live interview, but I really wanted to go to the UK to do a full-blown story on GW. The problem was I couldn’t get the access I wanted and needed to sell it. We’d have to get pictures of their greenhouses and to preferably do interviews and what’s called a stand-up (when a TV reporter is out in the field and is talking into the camera) inside of them. But GW wouldn’t let us in claiming, perhaps understandably, that the location of their British countryside pot farms are top secret. After several failed attempts to persuade them, I gave up and moved on.

In the meantime, GW has kept at it.

Today the company announcedthat it has filed for approval of Sativex for “the treatment of spasticity due to Multiple Sclerosis” in the UK and Spain. Bayer HealthCare would sell it in the UK. GW overseas and Bayer stateside shares traded “higher” today.

GW also plans to seek a marketing okay in other European countries next year. Sativex is already on the Canadian market for cancer pain and MS pain. It’s also available in the UK by prescription on something called a “named patient” basis and according to the company’s website Sativex has been exported to 21 countries. I’m betting some of it’s been “smuggled” into the U.S., too.

If anyone from GW Pharma is reading this, consider this another formal request to fly across the pond and do a story about Sativex inside one of labs and greenhouses. You’ve got my word I’m not going to steal any plants or clippings or tell anyone where the farms are located. They probably think I’m high or something.

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Update: A "Pharma's Market" reader in Europe sent an email to say that GW Pharmaceuticals trades over-the-counter on the Pink Sheets in the U.S. under the ticker GWPRF.PK .

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