Why Insys Therapeutics Is Evil, Part 3:
DEA Says Synthetic Cannabis Is Safer Than Whole-Plant Medicine
There just seems to be no end to the evils of Insys Therapeutics. The pharmaceutical company, which spent $500,000 to fight cannabis legalization in Arizona, is at it again. Insys continues to make scandalous moves hurting patients as well as players in the cannabis industry through their insidious acts.
The latest of which is the fact that the DEA has approved Syndros, a synthetic form of THC, to be in a Schedule II category while real cannabis remains a Schedule I drug alongside heroin and other drugs that have “no currently accepted medical use” as well as “a high potential for abuse.” Syndros has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of cancer and AIDS symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, and weight loss. Other drugs in the same category as Syndros include several painkillers, cocaine, and morphine. The DEA made the announcement last Wednesday, also saying that they received comments from opponents of their act while cannabis is still at a Schedule I status. Specifically, they said “two commenters expressed concern that pharmaceutical companies are making a profit from approved drugs containing marijuana constituents.”
“The DEA notes that FDA-approved products of oral solutions containing dronabinol [THC] have an approved medical use, whereas marijuana does not have an approved medical use and therefore remains in Schedule I,” said the agency.
I’m not sure what’s more bothersome: the fact that the DEA is granting Schedule II status to a company that is responsible for deaths through Fentanyl overdoses, or the fact that it’s turning a blind eye to the fact that company founders have been arrested due to fraud and racketeering claims. Last month, founder John Kapoor as well as other executives were implicated on these charges; particularly worrisome is that they were giving illegal kickbacks just so that doctors would prescribe Subsys, a Fentanyl-based medicine that is highly addictive and lethal.
The approval and advancement of Syndros is clearly viewed as positive news for the company, but it isn’t benefiting patients. Syndros filled the company’s deep pockets with an additional $700,000 from its first two months in the market.
Insys has been, to say the least, aggressive in its support for prohibition of whole-plant cannabis. Back in 2011, the company wrote to the DEA opposing loosening restrictions for natural THC, stating that it has “the abuse potential in terms of the need to grow and cultivate substantial crops of marijuana in the United States.” In 2016, they appealed for the DEA to loosen restrictions on synthetic CBD, since they are currently working on creating a CBD-based drug for pediatric epilepsy.
“It appears they are trying to kill a non-pharmaceutical market for marijuana in order to line their own pockets,” says a representative for Arizona’s cannabis legalization campaign. Insys tries to defend themselves, saying that they are against cannabis legalization since “it fails to protect the safety of Arizona’s citizens, and particularly its children.” However, they also said that the company “firmly believes in the potential clinical benefits of cannabinoids,” and that “we hope that patients will have the opportunity to benefit from these potential products once clinical trials demonstrate their safe and effective use.”
Another unusual aspect of this case is that Insys remains to be the only pharmaceutical company that is permitted to use Dronabinol. The DEA said, “…any form of dronabinol other than in an FDA-approved drug product remains a Schedule I controlled substance, and those who handle such material remain subject to the regulatory controls, administrative, civil, and criminal sanctions, applicable to Schedule I controlled substances set forth in the CSA and DEA regulations.”
Legalization advocates as well as business owners smell something fishy here. “There’s certainly a level of hypocrisy there,” says JP Holyoak, founder of Arizona Natural Selections an MMJ dispensary. Holyoak also chaired the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. “The DEA and federal government say that marijuana has no medicinal value whatsoever, it’s a Schedule I drug, it has no medical value,” says Holyoak. “But at the same time they say, ‘I guess it has medical value if it’s produced by a pharmaceutical company. Does that make any sense?”
It definitely does not.
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