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Marijuana Extracts Relieve Intractable Cancer Pain Better Than THC, Study Says

Wednesday, 02 December 2009

Plymouth, United Kingdom: The administration of Sativex, an oral spray consisting of natural cannabis extracts (primarily THC and cannabidiol aka CBD), significantly reduces cancer pain compared to placebo or THC alone, according to clinical trial data published online in the Journal of Pain Management.

An international team of investigators from the United Kingdom, Belgium, and Romania assessed the analgesic properties of Sativex in patients with intractable cancer pain. One hundred and seventy-seven subjects participated in the double blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Patients received Sativex, THC extract, or placebo.

Researchers reported that patients' pain scores improved significantly with Sativex compared to placebo or THC alone.

Authors concluded, "The results of this study show that the THC/CBD extract [Sativex] is an efficacious adjunctive treatment for cancer-related pain in patients who are not achieving an adequate analgesic response to opioids."

They added: "[I]n this study, the THC/CBD extract showed a more promising efficacy profile than the THC extract alone. This finding is supported by evidence of additional synergy between THC and CBD. CBD may enhance the analgesic potential of THC by means of potent inverse agonism at CB2 receptors, which may produce anti-inflammatory effects, along with its ability to inhibit immune cell migration. ... These results are very encouraging and merit further study."

A 2005 clinical trial previously demonstrated that cannabis extracts significantly reduced cancer pain compared to placebo.

An estimated 25 percent to 40 percent of cancer patients experience some type of neuropathic pain for which conventionally available analgesics are not consistently effective.

In 2006, the United States Food and Drug Administration authorized recruitment for the first-ever US trial assessing the use of Sativex for cancer pain. To date, 360 patients have been recruited into the study from fourteen countries in North America, Europe, Latin America, and South Africa. Results from the trial are expected to be reported in the spring of 2010.

Sativex is already legally approved in Canada for the treatment of multiple sclerosis or cancer pain, and is pending regulatory approval in Great Britain and the European Union.

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500. Full text of the study, "Multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study of the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of THC: CBD extract in patients with intractable cancer-related pain," appears online in the Journal of Pain Management.







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