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Ask The DMO: Is AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV) a Marijuana Stock?

June 1, 2017

 (Photo Credit - AbbVie)


What constitutes a cannabis stock? This can be a hard question to answer because it is different for everybody. Some companies are inarguable marijuana stocks like the licensed producers of medical marijuana under Health Canada's ACMPR. These companies grow marijuana. These companies sell marijuana. Therefore, they are marijuana stocks without a doubt. 


What happens if a company is not cultivating cannabis, but works with cannabinoids for the development of treatments and more? For pharmaceutical giant AbbVie Inc. (NYSE:ABBV), this is the case. 


AbbVie's Marinol


Since the mid '80s, AbbVie has marketed a drug called Marinol. Marinol is a dronabinol capsule that is chemically identical to tetrahydrocannabinol, a.k.a. THC. 


According to AbbVie, Marinol is used to "help manage loss of appetite associated with weight loss in patients with acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)," and also to fight "nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy in patients who have failed to respond adequately to conventional treatment to relieve nausea and vomiting."


What Else?


Beyond Marinol, what else does AbbVie have to do with cannabis to make the company eligible for consideration as a marijuana-related investment? 


A quick search through AbbVie's patent portfolio, and we see a long list of cannabinoid related patents. Some of these many patents include:



Competition is Coming


Based on AbbVie's product pipeline, it seems like the company is pumping the brakes on cannabinoid-related treatments. While AbbVie is slowing down in this regard, many competitors are speeding up. 


In March, AXIM Biotechnologies, Inc. (OTC:AXIM) announced that they're working on developing a controlled-release dronabinol chewing gum product. According to the announcement, "the new dronabinol chewing gum product will be bioequivalent to Marinol."


Besides AXIM, Tetra Bio-Pharma Inc. (CSE:TBP) (OTC:TBPMF) partnered with IntelGenx Corp. (TSXV:IGX) (OTC:IGXT) to develop and commercialize a Dronabinol tablet "for the management of anorexia and cancer chemotherapy-related pain." 


Last but not least is Insys Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ:INSY). The FDA recently approved the company's final product label for its Syndros product. Syndros is a Dronabinol oral solution that has been "approved for use in treating anorexia associated with weight loss in patients with Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome ("AIDS") and nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy in patients who have failed to respond adequately to conventional antiemetic treatments."




Based on our assessment, AbbVie could definitely be considered a marijuana stock. Agree or disagree with the Controlled Substances Act, Marinol is presumably here to stay for a while. 


While natural marijuana is a Schedule 1 substance according to the DEA, AbbVie's Marinol is not. Marinol is in fact a Schedule 3 substance, meaning that it has a "low potential for physical and psychological dependence." Meanwhile, natural marijuana is categorized with drugs that have "no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse."


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