GW PHARMA CANNABIS DRUG NEARS APPROVAL GW Pharmaceuticals on Monday reported more clinical trial data showing that its cannabis-based treatment helps control symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Sativex, an oral spray, reduced spasticity, the spasms and stiffness that afflict as many as three-quarters of people with MS. The trials were Phase III, the last stage before a drug is approved for marketing. But British doctors are unlikely to prescribe the purified mixture of cannabis extracts for some time, because the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulation Agency has asked for further data on its safety and effectiveness. Geoffrey Guy, chief executive, admitted approval was taking longer than expected, but said the process was on track. The trial data was released alongside GW's results for the six months to March 31, which showed pre-tax losses of UKP7.95m (UKP7.34m). Mr Guy said cash reserves of UKP24.2m were enough to see the company through to commercialisation of Sativex. Julie Simmonds, analyst at Evolution Beeson Gregory, said the latest data meant GW had a better chance of getting Sativex approved, although it would probably be restricted to spasticity, not the broader pain indication the company had previously been seeking.