Researchers Develop Patch to Deliver Psychoactive Ingredient of Marijuana

Researchers at the University of Mississippi have developed a patch to deliver THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. They say it could be used to treat pain, glaucoma, and the nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy, Mississippi News Now reports. The patch is designed to be used in the mouth, above the gum line.

The patch has been tested in rabbits and pigs, the article notes. “I’m expecting even better results in humans,” researcher Michael A. Repka said in a news release.

The researchers said the patch may be more effective than THC pills. “The main issue with oral THC delivery is that the drug gets metabolized before it reaches the bloodstream, resulting in a lot of variability in the dosage patients receive,” Repka said. “That has been a longtime problem. Delivering through the oral mucosa gives better absorption with minimal variability. When it goes into the mucosa, it bypasses liver metabolism, allowing for a lower dosage of the drug than when delivered orally.”

Researcher Mahmoud A. ElSohly noted that the patch avoids some of the potential problems with smoking marijuana.”The problem with smoking marijuana is that when you smoke [the drug], you take even a single puff, you absorb so much all at once, which rushes into the brain and causes side effects of smoking marijuana,” he said. “If the high is too high, then you actually end up with the opposite activity of the high, which is the paranoia, the dysphoria, and the problems associated with that.”

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    Ken Wolski

    February 16, 2013 at 4:36 PM

    Drugs can be swallowed, smeared onto the skin, injected into the body, shampooed into the hair, sprayed into the nose, dropped into the eyes, instilled into the ears, dissolved under the tongue, or inserted into the anus. Drugs can also be inhaled into the lungs as a mist or vapor–as long as they are not inhaled as the products of combustion, or smoke.

    Smoking is considered the only taboo method of drug administration.

    Yet smoking has several advantages to the patients who can tolerate it. Smoking allows for rapid onset of action–the patient can feel the therapeutic effect within minutes. Smoking allows for ease of titration–the patient can adjust the dosage to only use the minimum effective amount. And smoking provides psychological comfort–the patient knows that should painful symptoms return, relief is just a few puffs away.

    According to reliable polls the vast majority of people in America accept medical marijuana, which most commonly entails smoking the drug. But the pharmaceutical industry exerts undue influence over many of the elected representatives in Congress, so the federal government will continue to oppose medical marijuana for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, the pharmaceutical industry is desperately trying to bring to market drugs that activate or block receptors in the human body for the components of marijuana, as long as they do so in ways that the industry can patent and profit from. During this delay, health care costs continue to rise and patients continue to suffer needlessly.

    Dr. ElSohly’s attempt to overcome the inadequacies of the Marinol pill (synthetic THC) with a Pot Patch will not replace smoked medical marijuana. It is just further confirmation of marijuana‘s therapeutic usefulness in an alternative delivery form.

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    Joyce Dickens, PhD

    February 13, 2013 at 2:54 PM

    This is great (an oral Patch) and should eliminate some of the abuse in getting Medical MJ for those who really want it to get high! Also, sounds much healthier than smoking the MJ. No need to smoke it, if the patch works better and is available. This way Clients get the benefit of the medicinal value of MJ and not the high from smoking or the negative side effects.
    Dr. Joyce R. Dickens
    Addiction Psychologist

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    February 13, 2013 at 11:47 AM

    I like the idea of a valid medicine but the Pro-Pot lobby doesn’t. They do not want a real medicine the just want to smoke weed. Another point is most of the doctors who suggest marijuana don’t have the ability to prescribe anymore. They have surrendered their DEA number or lost the ability from a Medical Board. The way things are today medical marijuana is a sham.

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