- Reuters/John Vizcaino
An Arizona-based pharmaceutical company is fighting weed legalization, due at least in part to fears that it will hurt their business.
Insys Therapeutics Inc, gave $500,000 to Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, a prominent anti-marijuana legalization group, becoming the group’s single largest donor, The Intercept reported on Monday.
Proposition 205, an initiative to legalize and commercialize marijuana, is hitting the ballot in Arizona on November 8.
Insys markets drugs for those undergoing chemotherapy treatments, including Subsys, a fentanyl-based painkiller. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid painkiller that is 80 to 100 times more powerful than morphine and about 40 to 50 times more potent than 100% pure heroin.
The company is also developing Dronabinol, a synthetic cannabinoid – a blanket term referring to the active compounds in the marijuana plant – to reduce nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy. Dronabinol was approved by the FDA in July.
Though an Insys representative told The Arizona Republic that they oppose marijuana legalization because it “fails to protect” Arizona’s children, a recent filing Insys made to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) tells a different story.
From the filing (emphasis ours):
“Legalization of marijuana or non-synthetic cannabinoids in the United States could significantly limit the commercial success of any dronabinol product candidate … Literature has been published arguing the benefits of marijuana over dronabinol. Moreover, irrespective of its potential medical applications, there is some support in the United States for legalization of marijuana.
If marijuana or non-synthetic cannabinoids were legalized in the United States, the market for dronabinol product sales would likely be significantly reduced and our ability to generate revenue and our business prospects would be materially adversely affected.”
Numerous clinical trials have shown that cannabinoids can have positive effects on a range of chemotherapy-related ailments, according to the National Cancer Institute. Trials using inhaled marijuana have been less conclusive.
By Insys’s own admission, marijuana legalization in Arizona would likely “significantly” reduce the market for their synthetic drug, Dronabinol.
Without legalization, Insys would effectively hold a monopoly on legal cannabinoids with Dronabinol. If marijuana were legalized, patients could conceivably obtain natural cannabinoids harvested directly from marijuana plants rather than relying on Dronabinol.
Insys was not immediately available for comment.