Sativex under fire in diabetes treatment

Mon, 19 Dec 2005
Sativex is a cannabis-based medicine developed by UK company GW Pharmaceuticals. The drug, which is currently licensed for use in Canada, is coming under fire in the English press for its role in a recent UK death.

A diabetic grandmother died recently after developing mental problems whilst undergoing a Sativex trial. The family of the deceased patient have called for trials of the drug to be terminated.

Sativex was found by a coroner investigating the case to have made a ‘significant contributory factor’ in facilitating the illness which killed her. Mrs Anderson, a 69 year old retired supermarket worker, died of acute kidney failure in Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital. She was involved in a trial aiming to establish the affects of Sativex on diabetic neuropathy, a painful condition that affects the hands and feet.

Sativex had an immediate negative affect on the woman, producing ‘disturbed behaviour’ almost instantly. She developed delusions and paranoia. After levels were reduced, the problems continued, leading her family to describe her, almost one month into the trial, as ‘not the same person.’

The family of the deceased are calling for trials to be scrapped. The situation raises new questions about Sativex and its application in this country for diabetes treatment. A spokesperson for GW called the case ‘unique.’
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