The Strategist

France Urgently Stopped Testing a Cannabis-Based Drug

01/15/2016 - 14:36

On Friday morning, the French Health Minister announced commencing an investigation against yet unnamed pharmaceutical company’s clinical trials of a cannabis-based painkiller. The investigation began after five of the volunteers probing the medicine slipped into coma; another one was fixed brain death.

Health Minister Marisol Touraine
Health Minister Marisol Touraine
On Friday, French Health Minister Marisol Touraine announced termination of testing a new painkiller based on cannabis at a specially convened press conference. A pharmaceutical company, which name has not been disclosed, held the probes in the city of Rennes. The break was caused by the trial’s aftermath, occurred to be disastrous for some volunteers. According to Ms. Touraine, one of the patients died because of the brain death. Five others are in a coma, in critical condition, and doctors cannot yet say whether they will survive.

"The tests were conducted in a private licensed company that specializes in conducting clinical trials (of drugs). All volunteers were perfectly healthy. An emergency forced to hospitalize six volunteers in the clinic Rennes University. One of the hospitalized is in intensive care, he has recorded the brain death,"- said Mrs. Minister.

State of emergency, according to the minister, occurred on the Thursday night. Today, she has already gone to Rennes. Meanwhile, the Paris prosecutor's office announced commencement of a criminal investigation in connection with the case.

According to the Ministry of Health, testing the drug was stopped in a first stage. This is the stage when a new drug is received by healthy volunteers to assess the safety of its use, its portability implementation and evaluation of its pharmacological formula. The Ministry refused to disclose the drug’s name, companies involved in its development and testing. The drug’s nature was explained only in most general terms. According to the Ministry, it is a tablet taken by mouth, and intended, in particular, to suppress pain.

According to several Rennes newspapers, we can talk about Biotrial company, which has just been researching drugs and which headquarters is located in Rennes. Except from the Rennes division, the company has offices and laboratories in Nantes and Mulhouse (France), London (the UK), Newark (USA), Brussels (Belgium) and Montreal (Canada). Most recently, the company’s CEO Jean-Marc Gandon received the Medal of the National Academy of Medicine of France for activities in the field of medical research.