Arizona pharmaceutical company Insys Therapeutics has received preliminary approval from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) this week for Syndros, a synthetic marijuana drug, reports the Washington Post.
Insys is well-known for being the maker of fentanyl, the most potent, addictive and deadly opioid-based drug in the world, as well as for being a major financial backer last year for the opposition to recreational marijuana legalization in Arizona.
Syndros is a synthetic form of THC, the cannabis plant’s primary psychoactive component. Last summer, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Syndros for treating nausea, vomiting and weight loss in AIDS and cancer patients.
The DEA’s approval of Syndros places it as Schedule II substance in the Controlled Substances Act. Cannabis is a Schedule I substance.
Insys is also under numerous state and federal criminal investigations. In 2016, authorities arrested executives from the company for racketeering and on allegations for bribery and kickbacks to doctors. The company also donated $500,000 in 2016 to the group fighting marijuana legalization in Arizona.
Insys said that it opposed the Arizona marijuana legalization measure because “it fails to protect the safety of Arizona’s citizens, and particularly its children” and that it “firmly believes in the potential clinical benefits of cannabinoids.” They also “hope that patients will have the opportunity to benefit from these potential products [Syndros] once clinical trials demonstrate their safe and effective use.”