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Cannabis-based prescription drug approved to treat MS

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A cannabis-based drug which can be taken by multiple sclerosis (MS) sufferers has been approved for use in the UK.

Sativex will be marketed in the UK by its licensee Bayer, according to GW Pharmaceuticals. The firm told Reuters news agency that a 10 millilitre vial - enough to last a patient about 11 days - would cost the NHS £125.

Compounds taken from marijuana plants are used in the drug and research has shown that Sativex, which is sprayed under the tongue, cuts down spasticity in MS patients who do not respond to conventional treatment.

The NICE has still to rule on whether Sativex is cost-effective enough to be used by the NHS.

It was the first cannabis medicine in the world to gain regulatory backing five years ago when it was approved by Canadian authorities for neuropathic pain. Its entry into the UK - and possible other European countries as a result - will see it become available to a larger market.

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