Company Developing Patch for Marijuana Addiction Treatment

Posted on November 3rd, 2009

Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States. According to the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 15 million Americans (nearly 5% of the U.S. population) age 12 or older used marijuana at least once in the month prior to being surveyed. More than half of the individuals addicted to marijuana experience significant withdrawal symptoms if they try to quit.

The withdrawal symptoms contribute to the relapse and maintenance of marijuana use. Withdrawal symptoms are similar to those experienced by people who quit cigarettes, cocaine, and other drugs. Nearly two-thirds of marijuana users experience pronounced withdrawal symptoms that can include anxiety, irritability, depression, mood swings, and sleep problems.

Marijuana contains more than 400 chemicals, including many of the harmful substances found in tobacco smoke. Smoking one marijuana cigarette deposits about four times more tar into the lungs than a filtered tobacco cigarette and Harvard University researchers report the risk of a heart attack is five times higher than usual in the hour after smoking marijuana.

AllTranz Inc., a specialty pharmaceutical company focused on developing drugs to treat a variety of neurologic and inflammatory disorders, announced that it has been awarded a $4 million research grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to advance the company’s transdermal tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) patch for the treatment of marijuana dependence and withdrawal.

"We are pleased to receive this grant from NIDA and are proud that peer review has recognized the potential of our innovative approach to help people addicted to marijuana overcome their drug dependence and withdrawal symptoms," said Dr. Audra Stinchomb, Chief Scientific Officer of AllTranz Inc. "By delivering low, steady levels of THC using our transdermal patch, patients don`t experience the euphoria associated with higher levels."

"NIDA is interested in exploring the role of transdermal THC delivery as an innovative way to treat marijuana withdrawal symptoms and dependence," said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of NIDA. "This is especially relevant to our efforts to fill a critical gap in available treatments for the many Americans struggling with marijuana-related disorders and their detrimental medical and social consequences."

AllTranz’s patented system presents significant advancements in transdermal drug delivery. The novel drug delivery technology allows for the non-invasive, non-oral, controlled delivery of THC. The non-plant-based THC patch is designed to decrease the chance of side effects including drowsiness, dizziness, and the "high" feeling, as compared to ingesting a capsule, using a spray inhaler, or smoking marijuana. The patch will reduce dosing frequency and is expected to
improve marijuana withdrawal and addiction symptoms, similar to nicotine patch treatment for tobacco smoking cessation.

Following completion of preclinical studies, AllTranz expects to submit an Investigational New Drug (IND) application and initiate a Phase I clinical trial to examine the safety of the patch, which will be conducted through the Lifetree Clinical Research Center for Neuroscience Research, a therapeutic leader in central nervous system (CNS) and analgesia research.

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