Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Helen Kelly's letter

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  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Russell Brown,

    50/50 THC/CBD in conjunction with radiotherapy for brain tumours – is quite an attention-grabber.

    and, also, high dose Vit C prior to radiotherapy

    They found that high dose vitamin C by itself caused DNA damage and cell death which was much more pronounced when high dose vitamin C was given just prior to radiation.

    Herst says GBM patients have a poor prognosis because the aggressive GBM tumours are very resistant to radiation therapy. "We found that high dose vitamin C makes it easier to kill these GBM cells by radiation therapy".

    Unfortunately, Vitamin C is another treatment on Big Pharma's hate list.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1344 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Sacha,

    Not so. See paras at top of p3 of the cover letter. Looks like they missed a 2013 reference, and are committing to review and revise that aspect of the offical advice. Says “no other” references were found, not none.

    Yes, sorry – I did say I was rushing!

    It does make you wonder how hard they were looking, given that it hasn't taken Shane long. I'll have another look at the British drugs advisory panel report for sources.

    Meanwhile, an apparently successful Australian trial of Sativex for managing the symptoms of cannabis withdrawal. Which is interesting given the emphasis the 2007(!) NDP document places on the potential for dependence and psychosis and other disorders as a result of its use.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Geoff Noller,

    The Ministry’s approach is, in my view, an abuse of power, and the more strongly they are called on it the better.

    The Misery of Health has a track record

    "We are acutely aware that trust is not something that is present in the Ministry of Health at present – indeed the concerning feedback from colleagues working in the Ministry is the very dysfunctional interactions within that organisation at many levels," she said.

    "At present, the ongoing time-consuming, negative interactions with the Ministry leaders is sapping the time and energy that we should be using to innovate and plan for best patient care."

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1344 posts Report Reply

  • Shane Le Brun, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Since Mar 2015 • 47 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Here’s the UK Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs letter of advice to the Home Office minister in 201. Key part:

    In 2003, the ACMD made its recommendation for Sativex to be placed in Schedule 4. The ACMD at its meeting on 30th June 2010 concluded that the 2003 recommendation remains appropriate. At this meeting the ACMD discussed, in detail, the relative merits for placing the new marketed drug in either Schedule 2 or 4. The ACMD concludes that Sativex has a low abuse potential and low risk of diversion. Therefore, the ACMD concludes that based on this assessment, “Sativex” should be scheduled as a Schedule 4, Part 1 substance.

    The ACMD is conscious that the Home Office will need to take into account the UK’s obligations under the UN drug conventions, more particularly the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961 and its provisions relating to preparations.

    Sativex was subsequently moved to Schedule 4 of the British Misuse of Drugs Act, along with the minor tranquillisers, while other forms of cannabis remain in Schedule 1, which is for drugs thought to have no therapeutic value and therefore cannot be lawfully possessed or prescribed.

    The reassignment to Schedule 4 means Sativex can be much more easily prescribed (i.e.: no requirement to apply to the ministry for every prescription), without burdensome requirements around reporting and destruction. In New Zealand Because it is a cannabis preparation, Sativex is still classified as a Schedule 2 Class B (1) drug product under Misuse of Drugs Act 1975.

    The UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency also has a substantial note on Sativex. It includes this:

    4.9 Overdose
    There is no experience of deliberate overdose with Sativex in patients. However, in a Thorough QT study of Sativex in 257 subjects, with 18 sprays taken over a 20-minute period twice daily, signs and symptoms of overdose/poisoning were observed. These consisted of acute intoxication type reactions including dizziness, hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, tachycardia or bradycardia with hypotension. In three of 41 subjects dosed at 18 sprays twice a day, this presented as a transient toxic psychosis which resolved upon cessation of treatment. Twenty-two subjects who received this substantial multiple of the recommended dose successfully completed the 5-day study period.
    In the case of overdose, treatment should be symptomatic and supportive.

    The recommended maximum dose is 12 sprays a day, so this is a substantial overdose. Don’t try this with any other pharmaceutical drugs.

    Much of the MHRA entry is replicated in Medsafe's Sativex data sheet. Someone with more patience than me could do a side-by-side.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Shane Le Brun, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Although the fight here is for more products, ( a universal fight really ) the classification and hoops to jump through just doesn't match its level of risk or harm.
    I would propose splitting MC products based on THC:CBD ratio.
    high THC, as in, anything more potent than 2:1 THC:CBD stays as a class B med, as it has recreational potential, anything between 2:1 and 1:4 goes to class C, as a low risk med next to codeine, diazpeam, and anything lower in THC can be unscheduled as such, perhaps restricted to a specialist only medicine, so the high CBD stuff is recognized as having no abuse potential at all.

    Those ratios are just ballpark numbers, but it would stratify MC products into medium, low, and no diversion potential, which seems to be an obsession of some folk, Meanwhile, chronic pain folk sit at home on occasion with thousands of milligrams of various Class B Opiates....

    Since Mar 2015 • 47 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Shane Le Brun,

    I would propose splitting MC products based on THC:CBD ratio.
    high THC, as in, anything more potent than 2:1 THC:CBD stays as a class B med, as it has recreational potential, anything between 2:1 and 1:4 goes to class C, as a low risk med next to codeine, diazpeam, and anything lower in THC can be unscheduled as such, perhaps restricted to a specialist only medicine, so the high CBD stuff is recognized as having no abuse potential at all.

    That seems logical, although it would require some new thinking.

    Although having been around people on both, it still seems odd to me to have diazepam considered only about as risky as cannabis.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Shane Le Brun,

    Agreed diazepam is more risky, but we do have social/medical/political biases to accomodate also. Generally speaking Gps are comfortable dishing out class c stuff anyway. My next quest after MC will be topical ketamine, that stuff is great for nerve pain!

    Since Mar 2015 • 47 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald,

    A friend, who has a weakness for morning telly, suggested I watch today's Paul Henry show. I begged for mercy...but she insisted.

    And, sure enough, there was Our Leader being put on a hot griddle by Henry over Pharmac not funding Keytruda.

    We live in the melanoma epicentre, and New Zealanders are dying today. (6:30 -10:30)

    "You could make a call today, John...."

    He did do that possum in the headlight thing for a while, then obfuscated for a bit...but Henry kept at it...and OL did NOT deny that a phonecall from him could would sort it.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1344 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    Perhaps he could, but it would create other problems. Perhaps another drug would drop off the affordable list. Perhaps it would incentivise more drug companies to run campaigns that their drug be funded by political fiat rather than considered policy.

    I'm shaking my head a bit at the talk of Big Pharma blocking this and that, when what people are basically arguing at the same time is that the government should change its policy in such a way that would enable certain pharmaceutical companies to sell more products. It's not a consistent argument.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to B Jones,

    It's not a consistent argument.

    applies to so many areas of public discourse.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19719 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Young,

    Where are NORML and the ALCP during this tragic situation? When will both New Zealand cannabis lobby groups wise up and adapt their strategies to reflect the successful ones in the United States which have led to decriminalisation of medicinal cannabis derivatives across many US states? If they're this useless given Helen Kelly's sad situation, better that they stand aside and reconstitute themselves as a more effective lobby organisation based on lessons from successful legislative reform initiatives overseas. I support Helen in her fight, but one of the chief obstacles to reform seems to be the pot lobby itself.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 572 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Craig Young,

    I support Helen in her fight, but one of the chief obstacles to reform seems to be the pot lobby itself.

    That’s not new. Some people have a lot of trouble making the right allies.

    Otoh, there’s been speculative corporate money behind the legalisation lobby in the US and I’m not sure we want that either.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie, in reply to Craig Young,

    Where are NORML and the ALCP during this tragic situation?

    I asked the same question during the Alex Renton debate. If neither group has the awareness to even write a press release on these issues, which surely fit both of their remits, then there's little point in them existing.

    The common link between both groups these days is their noticeable absense from any important debate. Their inaction gives stoners a bad name.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1436 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to Alfie,

    [NORML and ALCP’s] noticeable absence from any important debate […] gives stoners a bad name.

    Or it may be that both groups already have a bad enough name that attaching it to an important case would not necessarily be a positive.
    (What's that you can smell? Uh, just a politically suspicious odour...)

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1931 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald,

    There was an informal 'protest' up North the other day.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1344 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Bell, in reply to linger,

    Yep.

    Wellington, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 175 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie,

    Support for Helen Kelly's situation is growing with some very public calls for a change in the way medicinal cannabis is treated by the government.

    A call for compassion from Jeremy Elwood & Michele A'Court.

    And a strong piece from Barry Soper in today's Herald.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1436 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Turns out not only Martin Crowe but Paul Holmes used cannabis during cancer.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19719 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to Sacha,

    I think the comments indicate the mass of public opinion has shifted on cannabis. Love to know what Curia are coming up with. It would be almightily amusing if JK, losing the flag referendum, decided his 'legacy' would be cannabis law reform!

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2110 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    If he really wants a meaningful legacy, there’s any number of actions that are both politically easy, and the right thing to do, that he could start with, and I’m considerably unimpressed that they’ve not even been considered. Taking in refugees from Nauru, for example.
    Marijuana law reform is also the right thing to do, but is politically harder, so what are the chances?

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1931 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19719 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie,

    Many people here will be aware of Xeni Jardin, one of the founders of the wonderful BoingBoing blog. After being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011, she wrote a moving account of how a non-user of recreational drugs turned into an advocate for medical pot.

    How I learned to stop worrying and love medical marijuana

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1436 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Braunias interviews Helen Kelly.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19719 posts Report Reply

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