A pharmaceutical painkiller manufacturer, Insys Therapeutics, has tried to put the breaks on marijuana legalization in Arizona. This type of move is a blatant opposition due to the direct threat to the bottom line of this publicly traded Biotech firm that is listed on the Nasdaq (INSY). Big Pharma does not want competition and neither do it’s shareholders. While the statement that issued by Insys was vague, the company’s website states that it has been conducting it’s own research and is in the process of producing seven drugs that affect the endocannabinoid system.
Reports filed with the Secretary of State’s Office show Insys Therapeutics, whose sole product is an opiate spray to treat pain for cancer patients, gave $500,000 to Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy. That is nearly four times more than the second largest donation of $110,000 from the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry to try to defeat Proposition 205.
J.P. Holyoak who chairs the committee pushing the initiative, said the interest of pharmaceutical companies in keeping marijuana illegal comes down to protection of profits. He said firms don’t want the competition.
In its own prepared statement, Insys said it opposes the initiative “because it fails to protect the safety of Arizona’s citizens, and particularly its children.” And the company noted that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved marijuana for any medical use.
The statement says Insys has nothing against the cannabinoids, the ingredients in marijuana, assuming they are properly used. In fact, the company’s website says it has seven such products in various stages of development.
That is a big change from the existing 2010 voter-approved medical marijuana law that allows doctors to recommend the drug to patients with cancer as well as to treat pain. About 100,000 Arizonans already have state-issued ID cards allowing them to legally purchase up to 2½ ounces of the drug every two weeks.
“The biotech industry might be the one who is actually best-positioned to cash in on the wide acceptance of medical marijuana going forward,” Hagopian said. “As the medical marijuana trend becomes the norm, rather than exception, stocks like Insys will be major beneficiaries.”