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France legalises cannabis-based MS treatment

media Sativex is an oral spray for the treatment of some of the effects of multiple sclerosis Open access/Wikipédia

France has legalised the sale of a cannabis-based medicine for the treatment of some of the effects of multiple sclerosis (MS). The oral spray Sativex is not expected to be on the market until 2015.

The Health ministry announced the authorisation of the sale of Sativex on Thursday, describing it as a "necessary step towards the commercialisation of the product".

The spray, developed by the British laboratory GW Pharmaceuticals, is to be sold in France by the company, Almirall, which says that it will be be available in 2015 "at best".

It is already available in the United Kingdom and Germany.

Sativex can be used to relieve severe spasms and will have to be prescribed by a neurologist and a hospital physiotherapist.

Health Minister Marisol Touraine issued a decree in June that allowed manufacturers of cannabis-based medicines to seek authorisation to sell their products in France.

A Cannabis-derived drug, dronabinnol, is already legally available in France for the relief of chronic pain in exceptional cases but only about 100 people use it.

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