Talks with foreign companies to import medical marijuana

Over the last few days, the German Parliament voted unanimously to legalize the use of medical marijuana. This will allow patients who suffer from multiple sclerosis, other serious illnesses and chronic pain, to buy the medical marijuana from a chemist against a doctor’s prescription. Italy and the Czech Republic are among the European countries which have already introduced medical marijuana.

In Malta, a movement exists in favour of using medical marijuana, however from information obtained by Television Malta it appears that the first step has to be an application to the Medicines Authority to import this drug. In fact, sources close to the pharmaceutical industry told PBS that talks are underway with foreign companies to import medical marijuana for the first time in the form of a spray.

Cannabis is illegal in Malta, and even medical marijuana is not yet on the market. Among the medical profession there are those who oppose the use of this medicine. Others, however, such as Dr Andrew Aguis, defend its use, although to date, no family doctor can prescribe it to his patients.

“I have seen cases where a person who has depression or anxiety is prescribed certain anti-depressants which do not improve anything, and so they keep increasing the dose of pills and they still don’t improve. Then when they took medicine coming from cannabis or hemp, these patients improved drastically,” said Dr Agius.

Dr Agius described how he met a person who had fibromyalgia, a condition which causes enormous pain, who took oil made from cannabis and saw a drastic improvement for the better.

“After having spent a week in bed, she got out of bed, cleaned the whole house, started cooking again, and since then she has managed to stop taking all the pills she had used to take for her fibromyalgia including anti-epileptics, anti-depressants and everything. She now functions like a normal person, as if she was never sick,” Dr Andrew Agius said.

Dr Agius said that medical marijuana can be used on patients who have cancer because it helps to ease their pain. He said that in cases like this, in Malta, morphine is being used which can lead to dependency.

Sources close to a pharmaceutical importer told Television Malta that talks are underway with foreign countries to bring medical marijuana to Malta for the first time to be used against chronic pain.

The Director of Licensing with the Medicines Authority,Helen Vella, said that so far it has not received any application for medical marijuana and when this happens it will go through the normal procedures like any other medicine.

“The product needs to be issued marketing authorization based on a dossier where it will be assured that the product is of good quality, is efficient and has acceptable safety standards. There are also other procedures where if the product is already authorized as a medicine in another European country, we recognize the marketing authorization and issue a licence so that it can be sold on the Maltese market,” said Helen Vella.

She added that the Authority would continue to listen to all sides to ensure that the safety of the patient will be protected .

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