Cannabis as medicine

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“Evidence supports reform to allow the legitimate study, regulation, and prescription of therapeutic cannabinoids.hemp

From its first recorded uses in China through to the early 20th century, cannabis has had a place in the pharmacopoeia. Queen Victoria’s personal physician, Russel Reynolds, opined in the Lancet in 1890, “Indian hemp, when pure and administered carefully, is one of the most valuable medicines we possess.” This opinion was based on current best evidence: the careful and documented observation of its effects in medical conditions.

In a similar vein, calls have been made to reconsider the role of cannabis in today’s society. Two well informed British politicians recently told The BMJ, “We have heard striking testimonies from patients… that cannabis has ‘given them their life back.’” Added to this, the international position on cannabis as a potential medication has changed, with international agencies and many governments relaxing a prohibitionist stance.”

http://www.bmj.com/content/357/bmj.j2130

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Cannabis Use, Medication Management and Adherence Among Persons Living with HIV.

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“Cannabis is used to relieve nausea, trigger weight gain, and reduce pain among adults living with HIV; however, the relationship between its use and medication adherence and management is unclear. Participants (N = 107) were from an ongoing cohort study of community-dwelling HIV+ adults, stratified by cannabis (CB) use: HIV+/CB+ (n = 41) and HIV+/CB- (n = 66). CB+ participants either tested positive in a urine toxicology screen for THC or had a self-reported history of regular and recent use. HIV-status was provided by physician results and/or biomarker assessment. Adherence was measured via the Morisky scale and medication management was assessed via the Medication Management Test-Revised. After adjusting for gender, we found no association between cannabis use group and adherence nor medication management. The amount of cannabis used was also not associated with measures of adherence and management. Preliminary findings suggest that cannabis use may not adversely influence medication adherence/management among adults living with HIV.”

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Cannabidiol Treatment for Refractory Seizures in Sturge-Weber Syndrome.

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“Sturge-Weber syndrome results in leptomeningeal vascular malformations, medically refractory epilepsy, stroke(s), and cognitive impairments. Cannabidiol, a cannabinoid without psychoactive properties, has been demonstrated in preclinical models to possibly have anticonvulsant, antioxidant, and neuroprotective actions.

CONCLUSION:

This study suggests that cannabidiol may be well tolerated as adjunctive medication for seizure management and provides initial data supporting further study of cannabidiol in individuals with Sturge-Weber syndrome.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28454984

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Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol/Cannabidiol Oromucosal Spray (Sativex®): A Review in Multiple Sclerosis-Related Spasticity.

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“Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)/cannabidiol (CBD) oromucosal spray (THC/CBD, Sativex®, nabiximols) is available in numerous countries worldwide for the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS)-related moderate to severe spasticity in patients who have not responded adequately to other anti-spasticity medication and who demonstrate clinically significant improvement in spasticity-related symptoms during an initial trial of therapy.

Twelve weeks’ therapy with THC/CBD improved MS-related spasticity in patients with an inadequate response to other anti-spasticity agents who had undergone a successful initial trial of THC/CBD therapy, according to the results of a pivotal phase 3 trial.

Improvements in spasticity were maintained in the longer term with THC/CBD with no evidence of dose tolerance, and results of real-world studies confirm the effectiveness of THC/CBD in everyday clinical practice.

Improvements in health-related quality of life and activities of daily living were also seen with THC/CBD.

THC/CBD is generally well tolerated; adverse effects such as dizziness may occur whilst the THC/CBD dosage is being optimized.

THC/CBD has low abuse potential and a low risk of psychoactive effects.

In conclusion, THC/CBD oromucosal spray is a useful option for the treatment of MS-related spasticity not completely relieved with current anti-spasticity medication.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28293911

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Concise review of the management of iatrogenic emesis using cannabinoids: emphasis on nabilone for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.

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“Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV) is a prevalent, distressing, and burdensome side effect of cancer chemotherapy. It is estimated to affect the majority of patients receiving certain anti-cancer drug regimens and can be treatment-limiting, even for life-saving medications. Despite seemingly numerous options, such as antimuscarinic anticholinergics, antihistamines, 5-HT3 receptor antagonists, dopamine receptor antagonists, and neurokinin-1 receptor antagonists, preventative therapies are often inadequately effective, particularly for “delayed CINV”-leaving an important unmet clinical need.

Cannabinoid receptor agonists, by virtue of their unique mechanism of action and efficacy and safety data reported in clinical trials, appear to offer a useful additional option.

The mechanistic value of cannabinoids has been well known for many years, but these agents may have been underutilized in the past because of the notoriety and legal status of marijuana. While botanical marijuana contains nearly 500 components, including the psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), nabilone is an established, single-entity synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonist that has become the focus of renewed interest. We review the basic pharmacology and clinical trial data of nabilone for use in prophylaxis and treatment of CINV.”

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Cannabidiol: Swinging the Marijuana Pendulum From ‘Weed’ to Medication to Treat the Opioid Epidemic.

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“Epidemics require a paradigm shift in thinking about all possible solutions. The rapidly changing sociopolitical marijuana landscape provides a foundation for the therapeutic development of medicinal cannabidiol to address the current opioid abuse crisis.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28162799

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An observational postmarketing safety registry of patients in the UK, Germany, and Switzerland who have been prescribed Sativex® (THC:CBD, nabiximols) oromucosal spray.

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“The global exposure of Sativex®9-tetrahydrocannabinol [THC]:cannabidiol [CBD], nabiximols) is estimated to be above 45,000 patient-years since it was given marketing approval for treating treatment-resistant spasticity in multiple sclerosis (MS).

An observational registry to collect safety data from patients receiving THC:CBD was set up following its approval in the UK, Germany, and Switzerland, with the aim of determining its long-term safety in clinical practice.

Twice a year, the Registry was opened to prescribing physicians to voluntarily report data on patients’ use of THC:CBD, clinically significant adverse events (AEs), and special interest events. The Registry contains data from 941 patients with 2,213.98 patient-years of exposure.

Within this cohort, 60% were reported as continuing treatment, while 83% were reported as benefiting from the treatment. Thirty-two percent of patients stopped treatment, with approximately one third citing lack of effectiveness and one quarter citing AEs.

Psychiatric AEs of clinical significance were reported in 6% of the patients, 6% reported falls requiring medical attention, and suicidality was reported in 2%. Driving ability was reported to have worsened in 2% of patients, but improved in 7%.

AEs were more common during the first month of treatment. The most common treatment-related AEs included dizziness (2.3%) and fatigue (1.7%).

There were no signals to indicate abuse, diversion, or dependence.

The long-term risk profile from the Registry is consistent with the known (labeled) safety profile of THC:CBD, and therefore supports it being a well-tolerated and beneficial medication for the treatment of MS spasticity.

No evidence of new long-term safety concerns has emerged.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27956834

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Effectiveness of Cannabidiol Oil for Pediatric Anxiety and Insomnia as Part of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Case Report.

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“Anxiety and sleep disorders are often the result of posttraumatic stress disorder and can contribute to an impaired ability to focus and to demonstration of oppositional behaviors.

CASE PRESENTATION:

These symptoms were present in our patient, a ten-year-old girl who was sexually abused and had minimal parental supervision as a young child under the age of five. Pharmaceutical medications provided partial relief, but results were not long-lasting, and there were major side effects. A trial of cannabidiol oil resulted in a maintained decrease in anxiety and a steady improvement in the quality and quantity of the patient’s sleep.

DISCUSSION:

Cannabidiol oil, an increasingly popular treatment of anxiety and sleep issues, has been documented as being an effective alternative to pharmaceutical medications. This case study provides clinical data that support the use of cannabidiol oil as a safe treatment for reducing anxiety and improving sleep in a young girl with posttraumatic stress disorder.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27768570

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Medical Marijuana Laws Reduce Prescription Medication Use In Medicare Part D.

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“Legalization of medical marijuana has been one of the most controversial areas of state policy change over the past twenty years. However, little is known about whether medical marijuana is being used clinically to any significant degree. Using data on all prescriptions filled by Medicare Part D enrollees from 2010 to 2013, we found that the use of prescription drugs for which marijuana could serve as a clinical alternative fell significantly, once a medical marijuana law was implemented. National overall reductions in Medicare program and enrollee spending when states implemented medical marijuana laws were estimated to be $165.2 million per year in 2013. The availability of medical marijuana has a significant effect on prescribing patterns and spending in Medicare Part D.”  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27385238

“Medical Marijuana Laws Reduce Prescription Medication Use In Medicare Part D”  http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/35/7/1230

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Sativex Associated With Behavioral-Relapse Prevention Strategy as Treatment for Cannabis Dependence: A Case Series.

“The current lack of pharmacological treatments for cannabis dependence warrants the use of novel approaches and further investigation of promising pharmacotherapy.

In this case series, we assessed the use of self-titrated dosages of Sativex (1:1, Δ-tetrahydrocannabinol [THC]/cannabidiol [CBD] combination) and motivational enhancement therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy (MET/CBT) for the treatment of cannabis dependence among 5 treatment-seeking community-recruited cannabis-dependent subjects.

THC/CBD metabolite concentration indicated reduced cannabis use and compliance with medication.

CONCLUSIONS:

In summary, this pilot study found that with Sativex in combination with MET/CBT reduced cannabis use while preventing increases in craving and withdrawal in the 4 participants completing the study. Further systematic exploration of Sativex as a pharmacological treatment option for cannabis dependence should be performed.”

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27261670

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