DEA Approves FDA-Approved Insys Synthetic Marijuana | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Insys Therapeutics, a pharmaceutical company that was one of the chief financial backers of the opposition to marijuana legalization in Arizona last year received preliminary approval from the Drug Enforcement Administration this week for Syndros, a synthetic marijuana drug.

 

Insys gave $500,000 last summer to Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, the group opposing marijuana legalization in Arizona year (read “Insys, Maker of a Fentanyl Opioid Spray, Donates $500K to Anti-Marijuana Campaign”; http://sco.lt/4vyNdJ). The donation amounted to roughly 10 percent of all money raised by the group in an ultimately successful campaign against legalization. Insys was the only pharmaceutical company known to be giving money to oppose legalization last year, according to a Washington Post analysis of campaign finance records.

 

Syndros is a synthetic formulation of THC, the main psychoactive component in the cannabis plant. It was approved by the FDA last summer to treat nausea, vomiting and weight loss in cancer and AIDS patients. The DEA approval places Syndros and its generic formulations in Schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act, indicating a "high potential for abuse." Other Schedule II drugs include cocaine, morphine and many prescription painkillers.

 

"It appears they are trying to kill a non-pharmaceutical market for marijuana in order to line their own pockets," a spokesman for Arizona's marijuana legalization campaign said of Insys last year.

 

Insys is also the subject of numerous state and federal criminal investigations, as well as a shareholder lawsuit, over its aggressive marketing of a product containing the potent and deadly opioid painkiller fentanyl. In December, the FBI arrested the company's former chief executive and five other executives on charges that they "paid kickbacks and committed fraud to sell a highly potent and addictive opioid that can lead to abuse and life threatening respiratory depression." [See http://sco.lt/5f8yLx]

 

In addition to its synthetic marijuana products, Insys is also developing a drug to treat opioid overdose.