FDA denies 'delaying' pot oil approval

FDA denies 'delaying' pot oil approval

Says Decha's case under consideration

The Food and Drug Administration has denied dragging its feet over approving cannabis oil developed by Decha Siripat. (Government Pharmaceutical Organisation photo)
The Food and Drug Administration has denied dragging its feet over approving cannabis oil developed by Decha Siripat. (Government Pharmaceutical Organisation photo)

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has denied dragging its feet over approving cannabis oil developed by Decha Siripat, a cannabis advocate and respected activist.

Dr Surachok Tangwiwat, the FDA's deputy secretary-general, said on Tuesday that the regulator had received Mr Decha's case on July 1 and had already forwarded the formula to the subcommittee on drug control for consideration. If approved, the formula will be promulgated in an official Ministry of Public Health announcement.

"We have done everything according to standard practice. We didn't delay Mr Decha's case as alleged by some NGO groups," he told the media yesterday.

His response came after 12 non-governmental organisations lodged a petition against the agency last week, saying the delay was affecting patients.

The group sent the petition directly to new Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul. In the complaint, they asked why the FDA took only a week to approve Chaopraya Abhaiphubejhr Hospital's use of the plant, but were taking much longer in Mr Decha's case.

Mr Decha is president of the Khaokwan Foundation, a sustainable agriculture advocacy group. Three years ago he started giving away his own specifically formulated version of cannabis oil to patients for free.

Now, thousands of patients, including cancer sufferers, are reportedly waiting for FDA to approve Mr Decha's cannabis oil formula. Dr Surachok, however, explained that the two cases are different.

The FDA applied "Special Access Scheme" (SAS) criteria to Chaopraya Abhaiphubejhr Hospital's case. Located in Prachin Buri province, the hospital is famous for being a pioneer in using plants and herbs for medical treatment.

The SAS is for Thailand-made drug formulas for specific treatment. There are only two institutes under the scheme -- the Chaopraya Abhaiphubejhr Hospital and the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation.

In Mr Decha's case, the agency must apply criteria related to traditional medicines, Dr Surachok said. This means approval takes longer as the proposal must be vetted by the Department of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine first.

In another development, Kristi Kelly, head of the CannAbility Foundation will be a keynote speaker at "New World of Cannabis" on July 27. The event at True Digital Park @ Digital Gateway in Ekamai aims to inspire start-up businesses within the medical marijuana industry. Ms Kelly is known as one of top 100 influencers in cannabis development.

The event is being organised by the National Innovation Agency.


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