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Addiction Medicine FYI

THC Patch

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 percent 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 continuation 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, today 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.

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.

The patch is initially being developed for marijuana withdrawal and dependence. Additionally, because of THC`s wide-ranging therapeutic and clinical benefits, AllTranz is proceeding with development of the patch for other indications, including cancer chemotherapy nausea and vomiting, AIDS patient appetite stimulation, and multiple sclerosis (MS) pain. Separate Phase II clinical trials would be pursued for each indication.