Bath, United Kingdom: Cannabis extracts suppress pain and improve sleep quality in patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, according to clinical trial data published in the current issue of the journal Rheumatology.
Fifty-eight patients participated in the randomized, double-blind, parallel group study. Thirty-one volunteers self-administered Sativex, a whole plant medicinal cannabis extract containing precise doses of the cannabinoids THC and cannabidiol (CBD), for a period of five weeks while the others received a placebo.
Compared to the placebo group, patients who had taken Sativex experienced statistically significant improvements in pain on movement, pain at rest, quality of sleep, inflammation, and intensity of pain, the study found.
The study is the first clinical trial to investigate the effects of either cannabis or cannabis extracts on patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
In March, survey data published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice reported that approximately one out of six medicinal marijuana patients in the UK use cannabis to alleviate symptoms of arthritis.
Previous clinical data on Sativex have demonstrated cannabis extracts to reduce neuropathic pain, spasticity, pain-related sleep disturbances, and urinary dysfunction in Multiple Sclerosis patients unresponsive to standard treatment.
Sativex is now available by prescription in Canada and in Spain under the Spanish Ministry of Health's compassionate access program. This week, British regulatory officials also approved the limited use of Sativex for select patients in the UK as an unlicensed medicine. Regulatory approval for full licensing of the drug remains pending.
For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, Senior Policy Analyst, at (202) 483-5500. Full text of the study, "Preliminary assessment of the efficacy, tolerability, and safety of a cannabis-based medicine in the treatment of pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis," is available in the November issue of Rheumatology.