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Pfizer to Acquire Pharmaceutical Company Testing Cannabinoid Treatment

Pfizer Inc. (one of the three major pharmaceutical companies producing COVID-19 vaccids) is buying another large pharmaceutical company. This is conducting clinical trials on various drugs, including one that studies the efficacy and safety of cannabinoids.

Pfizer Inc., announced on December 13 that it would acquire Arena Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Pfizer and Arena signed an agreement in which they agreed to receive 100 shares each of Arena, with cash payments equaling $6.7 million. Arena offers a variety of multi-stage clinical trials for the drugs they’re currently developing—one of which is exploring the use of an oral cannabinoid medicine for gastrointestinal disorders.

Arena and Pfizer’s boards of directors approved the agreement, according to press releases. “The proposed acquisition of Arena complements our capabilities and expertise in Inflammation and Immunology, a Pfizer innovation engine developing potential therapies for patients with debilitating immuno-inflammatory diseases with a need for more effective treatment options,” said Pfizer Global President & General Manager Mike Gladstone. “Utilizing Pfizer’s leading research and global development capabilities, we plan to accelerate the clinical development of etrasimod for patients with immuno-inflammatory diseases.” Gladstone operates under the Pfizer inflammation and immunology department.

Arena has been working on a multitude of “development stage therapeutic candidates,” ranging from gastroenterology, dermatology, cardiology and more. One particular treatment of note is etrasimod, which is being tested as a treatment for ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. There are also drug candidates that could be used in gastroenterology and dermatology, as well as cardiology.

Arena also has an antagonist to a type 2 cannabinoid receptor. Nawan Butt is a portfolio manager for The Medical Cannabis and Wellness ICITS ETC. He mentioned that this acquisition will help push medical cannabis research forward. “This acquisition displays the interest big pharma is taking in the fast-evolving world of cannabinoids. The acquisition provides additional resources as well as a larger platform to support the pharmaceutical development of cannabinoids. This is a positive sign. The transaction overall is positive. [with] Pfizer’s long-term focus on innovative research and a great win for our investors,” he told

Arena’s involvement in cannabinoid research is related to its drug candidate, Olorinab (APD371). “Olorinab (APD371) is an investigational, oral, peripherally acting, highly selective, full agonist of the cannabinoid type 2 receptor (CB2). Olorinab is an internally discovered drug candidate that Arena is exploring for development in several indications, with an initial focus on visceral pain associated with gastrointestinal disorders,” Arena’s website reads. “This compound, through its selectivity for CB2 versus CB1, is under investigation for pain relief without psychoactive adverse effects.”

Over the last decade, cannabis research has grown rapidly beyond official clinical trials. But in early November, NORML released a compilation of 450 peer-reviewed studies in “Clinical Applications for Cannabis & Cannabinoids: A Review of the Recent Scientific Literature, 2000-2021.”

It includes studies that have examined cannabis as a treatment for autism, chronic pain and diabetes, fibromyalgia migraines, and PTSD. This compilation will likely be used as a foundation for clinical trials. “NORML has long advocated for the enactment of evidence-based marijuana policies,” said the review’s main author, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano. “When it comes to addressing questions specific to the safety and therapeutic efficacy of cannabis, this publication provides the evidence that patients and their physicians—as well as lawmakers—need to know.”

The U.S. researchers are ready to carry out more studies about cannabis, from exercise to sleep aids, for many years.