NEW YORK (MainStreet) Although the Drug Quality and Security Act was passed by President Obama to address the meningitis outbreak and lack of sterilization at a compounding pharmacy in New England, it may pave the way to improve the quality, potency and purity of cannabis-based products. In addition, this measure could provide the impetus for pharmaceutical companies to enter the medical marijuana market.
"Good manufacturing practices is what this is all about," said Joseph Friedman, director of marketing and business development for Mark Drugs, a compounding pharmacy in Lincolnshire, Illinois. "All compounding pharmacies must either have a manufacturing license to produce mass quantities of a particular compounded medication or must have on record the individual patient names and demographics for each dose or preparation of a compounded pharmaceutical."
Using an implant as the delivery system for drugs such as Naltrexone is an approved process under current compounding laws when prescribed by a doctor.
"Since the implant is surgically implanted, it must be completely sterilized first," said Brady Granier, chief operating officer of BioCorRx. "Any compound that is implanted or injected needs to be free of contamination and the Drug Quality and Security Act will make sure that these compounds are safe for use if all compounding pharmacies follow the rules."
Naltrexone is known to block cravings and the pleasurable effects of ingesting opioids, such as Vicodin, Oxycontin, Heroin and now Zohydro ER. Also showing some efficacy is Suboxone, which is naloxone combined with buprenorphine.
"We support the full range of all forms of medication being made available to people trying to reduce or stop their opiate abuse," said Meghan Ralston, harm reduction manager with the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). "People are different, so they should have a range of treatments and medications available to them along with social and psychological support that promotes well-being."
Much like heroin, the abuse of prescription painkillers burdens the U.S. healthcare system with an estimated annual cost of $72 billion, and there are 825 non-medical users of prescription painkillers for every one death, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
"Cannabis and Naltrexone have different mechanisms of action, but I suspect the combination of the two may have a profound benefit on opioid dependence and abuse," Friedman told MainStreet.
More than 70% of patients using cannabis as a substitute for prescription drugs found it more effective and with less withdrawal potential, according to research conducted by Amanda Reiman, policy manager with the California DPA.
"There is no research on cannabis as a treatment regime for opiate addiction, but there are several groups, such as the Harm Reduction for Alcohol network, for those trying to abstain or reduce their alcohol use with cannabis," Reiman told MainStreet.
The cost of the Naltrexone implant can be an issue much like methadone.
For example, Vivitrol is an injectable form of Naltrexone that costs about $900 to $1,500 a month and lasts three to four weeks.
"We do not sell the implant as a stand-alone product," Granier told MainStreet. "It is only part of the program. The clinics that use our implant on their patients sell it as an overall treatment program that covers at least six months."
BioCorRx 's Start Fresh program incorporates life coaching along with the Naltrexone implant to treat alcohol and now opioid addiction.
"Most if not all addicts need to address the underlying psycho-social issues that caused them to use in the first place," Granier said. "The coaching addresses those issues and provides the tools they need once the Naltrexone wears off."
--Written by Juliette Fairley for MainStreet