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Big Pharma’s Marijuana Fantasy May Not Be A Patient’s Nightmare

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Marijuana Pill BottleBy Lanny Swerdlow, RN, LNC

Next year, the patent on Marinol–the synthetic version of THC–comes to an end, opening the market for synthetic THC distribution to all takers. Pharmaceutical companies know a cash cow when they see it and they are lining up en masse to produce their version of Marinol.

Sativex, produced by UK firm GW Pharmaceuticals, distributed in Canada and in many European countries and is in stage III trials in the U.S., utilizes naturally derived THC from the cannabis plant in its sublingual spray. A number of pharmaceutical companies have petitioned to use similar naturally derived THC rather than its more costly to produce synthetic version.

This is Big Pharma asking for legal medical marijuana now. With their legions of lobbyists on Capitol Hill and tens of millions of dollars pouring into the re-election war chests of politicians of both political parties, they are likely to get their way.

Now that may not seem fair that patients and small time collective operators get jail and fat cat corporate executives get to rake in billions for doing the same thing, but that’s the way it goes in this country. Giant corporations call all the shots in Washington and with the unfathomable number of deluded Americans enthusiastically supporting the corporate welfare-toting Tea Party pandering legislators, it’s only going to get worse.

Since the amount of money Big Pharma will make on the sale of medicinal marijuana will be directly proportional to the volume of marijuana consumed by patients, what do you think the pharmaceutical companies will do–instruct their lobbyist to seek legislation restricting the sale of marijuana only to people with one foot in the grave or start advertising on TV?

Since there will be no longer be an exclusive patent on producing THC derived medications, no one company can control the distribution and hence charge monopoly prices. With competition from a multitude of pharmaceutical corporations wanting their slice of this new multi-billion dollar pie, good old-fashioned American competition and innovation will drive prices down, down, down.

Medical MarijuanaOf course, the widespread use of marijuana could cost pharmaceutical companies billions in lost sales of analgesics (painkillers), anti-psychotics and sleeping pills. Although these are amongst the most profitable drugs they produce, those loses will be dwarfed by the billions taken in from having total control of the legal marijuana market.

No one knows what form it will be in. Marinol is a pill, Sativex is a spray, but since it is going to be all about money, no doubt some innovative company will find some way to deliver this natural product in its natural form.

To obtain Big Pharma’s marijuana, you will get the old-fashioned prescription from a doctor instead of the new-fangled recommendation. Getting a prescription should be as easy as a getting a recommendation. Like Marinol, marijuana will be a Schedule III drug, which is much less tightly regulated than Schedule II drugs, which require special prescription pads with reporting to the DEA. Doctors hand out prescriptions for Schedule III drugs such as Vicodin like water, so it will be extremely easy to obtain a marijuana prescription from almost any doctor.

Not only will it be easy to get, but your insurance company will pay for the doctor visit. They might even pay for your marijuana. Why shouldn’t they? Insurance companies will save billions on the medications that doctors won’t have to prescribe because their patients have chosen to use marijuana instead.

Another major benefit for patients of having Big Pharma control marijuana distribution would be that since marijuana would be a prescription medicine, it would not be subject to taxes. The onerous prospects of a $50 to $100 per-ounce tax or the current business and sales taxes now being levied on collectives by cash-strapped cities would vanish. Since marijuana can be produced relatively cheaply if it is a legal crop, marijuana would become cheaper than aspirin.

 

Lanny Swerdlow, RN, LNC, hosts Marijuana Compassion& Common Sense every Monday at 6PM on Inland Empire talk radio station KCAA 1050AM and simulcast at www.kcaaradio.com. He can be reached at (760) 799-2055 or lanny@marijuananews.org.

Article from Culture Magazine and republished with special permission

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  • Anonymous4Now

    I’ve been on Marinol for 3 years and I can tell you it’s not easy to get at all. That’s an oversimplified pipe dream. I’ve had life-long stomach issues and none of my doctors were willing to prescribe it to me at first. Marinol is “only approved for cancer & AIDS” which magically excluded me, not having one of those conditions. I had to get turned down by numerous doctors before I finally got my primary care doctor to prescribe it to me. By that time I had lost weight and was having trouble eating. He has written EVERY prescription as if it was a schedule II drug (no refills).

    After I got Marinol prescriptions, I was having severe abdominal pain. My primary care doctor treated me as if I was some druggie looking to get high and wouldn’t prescribe anything additional. I had to go into the office teary-eyed from the pain and tell them I was in severe pain and it wasn’t right that I was getting treated like this. I got a one month’s supply of Vicodin which mildly helped.

    Additionally, I was prescribed such a low dose that I ran out before I could get a new refill. It took months of running out to get an adequate amount. I went from 2 of the lowest dose (2.5mg) a day, to 4 a day, to 5 a day, and am now back down to 1-2 a day.

    Oh, and the recommendations in in AZ are hard as hell to get. Despite being prescribed Marinol for 3 years and having nausea constantly documented, that was not enough to qualify. I had to get records sent from numerous other doctors and had to get a note from my primary care doctor explicitly stating I had “severe nausea” for the marijuana recommendation doctor to even consider giving me a recommendation.

    Your article makes this process seem so easy. It’s not.

    • Anonymous4Now

      It was a low dose of Marinol, not Vicodin that I was referencing in the 2nd to last paragraph.

  • JUAN

    nOTE , ON FRI THE GOV DID NOT RECLASSIFY POT. AN APPEAL IS UNDER WAY , BUT THE ABOVE ARTICLE IS A PIPE DREAM OF SORTS.