March 22, 2011 / 8:12 AM / in 8 years

UPDATE 1-GW cannabis drug wins green light in 6 new markets

* Sativex launches seen in Denmark, Germany, Sweden in 2011

* Austria, Czech Republic, Italy to follow in 2012

* Almirall marketing partner for under-the-tongue spray

* Shares up 2.5 percent

(Adds details, shares, background)

LONDON, March 22 (Reuters) - GW Pharmaceuticals Plc’s GWP.L pioneering cannabis drug Sativex has been recommended for approval in the six other European countries targeted by the British company and Spanish partner Almirall (ALM.MC).

National approvals are now expected in Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Italy and Sweden from mid-2011 onwards, with launches in Denmark, Germany and Sweden likely before the end of 2011, GW said on Tuesday.

The medicine was expected to go on sale in the remaining countries in 2012.

GW shares were up 2.5 percent in early trade.

Sativex — sprayed under the tongue as a treatment for spasticity in multiple sclerosis — is already approved and marketed in Britain and Spain. The latest green lights for the drug come under the European mutual recognition procedure.

“Today’s news represents a major step forward for the international commercialisation of Sativex,” GW’s research director Stephen Wright said.

Sativex is sold as a prescription drug in Britain by Bayer (BAYGn.DE) at a cost of around 11 pounds ($18) per day, while Almirall is the marketing partner elsewhere in Europe.

Sativex became the world’s first cannabis medicine to win regulatory clearance when it was approved in Canada in 2005 for neuropathic pain. Its roll-out in Europe for MS opened up a bigger market.

GW — also hoping to get Sativex approved as a treatment for cancer pain — extracts the active ingredients in Sativex from marijuana plants grown at a secret location in the English countryside. (Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Dan Lalor) ($1 = 0.6143 pound)

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