The debut of Pfizer in the cannabis industry marks a significant milestone for the field. The pharmaceutical company became one of the latest firms to join the world of cannabis after their recent $6.7 million acquisition of Arena Pharmaceuticals, Inc, as reported by the Fresh Toast.
Arena Pharmaceuticals is a biopharmaceutical company with part of its drug pipeline dedicated to researching cannabinoid-type therapeutics.
The San Diego-based firm’s principal focus in the cannabinoid biotech sphere is the research and development of its investigational drug candidate, Olorinab. Given the topline results of Olorinab in a recent study, Pfizer is looking to capitalize on the promising drug.
The study of Olorinab shed light on the optimistic nature of the drug among participants with moderate to severe abdominal pains due to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
Essentially, this indicates that Olorinab could be beneficial in treating various symptoms, mainly of visceral pains connected with gastrointestinal ailments. With the newly passed infrastructure bill that paves the way for more in-depth cannabis study, we can expect faster and more accurate research of Olorinab.
Although the acquisition of Arena Pharmaceuticals is a game-changer in cannabis treatment, it is not the first time a major pharmaceutical company has expressed interest in a cannabis-related company.
Earlier this year, the global biopharma company Jazz Pharmaceuticals purchased Cambridge-based cannabinoid firm GW Pharmaceuticals in a $7.2 billion acquisition. Jazz, which mainly focuses on sleep medication, looks to expand its neuroscience portfolio and absorb GW’s lead product, Epidiolex. The drug used to treat epilepsy is the first cannabinoid medication approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Pfizer’s acquisition of Arena at a significant premium shows that mammoth pharmaceutical companies recognize the value and future of cannabinoid-based medicine. Moreover, universities incorporating cannabis courses in their portfolios is also a positive sign that the cannabis industry is expanding.
More than two-thirds of US states have legalized the use of medical marijuana for treatments. Even so, the cannabis industry has a long way to go before complete legalization.
Despite the many benefits of cannabis-based medicines in treating numerous ailments such as glaucoma, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis, cannabis is still heavily criticized by laws.
Furthermore, top federal drug officials admit that cannabis’ classification as a schedule 1 drug hinders critical research and review.
This classification places cannabis alongside heroin, Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), and Ecstasy. Although this does not mean that the federal government considers heroin and marijuana as equally dangerous substances, it is detrimental to the growth of the cannabis industry.
Although grouping heroin and cannabis in the same schedule may seem outrageous, it reflects an intricate system that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) uses to classify substances.
In this case, the DEA accounts for the potential medical use of cannabis and the likelihood of its abuse. Since the federal agency decided to uphold marijuana as a schedule 1 drug, it may be a while before recreational marijuana and other cannabis accessories can be federally legal in every state.