By Sy Mukherjee
June 25, 2018

Happy Monday, readers—This is Sy.

I was going to focus today’s essay on a striking statement from China on the opioid crisis—specifically, this one, from Liu Yuejin, deputy head of China’s National Narcotics Commission—pointing the finger straight at the United States over the following President Trump’s assertion that “cheap and deadly” opioid forms manufactured in China are flooding the U.S.:

“China’s drug control agencies, now and in the years to come, will place greater emphasis on drug control cooperation between China and the United States. But I believe that to resolve this the more important issue is for the United States to strive to reduce and compress the great demand and drug consumption markets of opioids.”

Those are some fighting words worth exploring, especially since Liu went on to point out that China hasn’t experienced the same kind of opioid abuse and trafficking seen in America.

But there’s another bit of major headline news today: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first-ever marijuana based prescription drug in the U.S., a treatment from the U.K.’s GW Pharmaceuticals to tackle debilitating childhood epileptic disorders. The FDA cleared the drug, meant to treat Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, for patients two years of age and older.

This isn’t a surprise given the overwhelming recommendation for Epidiolex by the FDA’s own expert advisers in April. The question is whether the floodgates will now open for companies seeking drug approvals that involve marijuana derivatives, whether to treat neurological conditions or movement disorders or even chronic pain.

Much will depend on the actual substances at play. After all, Epidiolex’s main ingredient is cannabidiol (CBD)—which is different from the psychoactive, high-producing THC component of marijuana. But another intriguing question is what will happen to the overall legal status of CBD now that a federal agency has officially designated it a drug with proven medical benefits.

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee


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