French people with multiple sclerosis (MS) may look forward to some help against spasms, after the authorisation of a cannabis-based mouth spray called Savitex that is already available in Germany and the UK.
Sativex is made by GW Pharmaceuticals in Britain.
MS is an inflammatory deficiency of the body’s immune system, a disease that damages the insulation around cells in the brain and spinal cord.
This impairs nervous system communication, provoking many different symptoms, including pain. The cause is not clear, and there is no known cure. The name multiple sclerosis refers to scars particularly in the white matter of the brain and spinal cord.
The World Health Organisation 2008 estimate of people affected by MS globally was between 2 and 2.5 million. The disease is twice as common in women as in men.
According to the Multiple Sclerosis Society website, muscle stiffness and spasms are common MS symptoms, and are often described as spasticity. Certain things can trigger this, and the symptoms can make daily activities difficult and may vary over time.
Authorisation for cannabis-derived drugs has made slow headway in France, and the decision by the French Agence Nationale de Sécurité du Médicament et des Prodiuts de Santé (ANSM) to permit the sale of Sativex, the Health Ministry said, is only a preparatory step.
It is not yet in pharmacies there.