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Medical Cannabis Oils Can Treat Chronic Pain, UK Registry Study Finds

By Leo Bear-McGuinness

Published: Oct 08, 2021   
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Medical cannabis products can successfully treat chronic pain, according to a new study of UK patients.

Published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, the study surveyed the first group of UK chronic pain patients prescribed medical cannabis oil.

Most of the 110 participants reported significant improvements in their health-related quality of life one, three, and six months on from starting the cannabis treatment.

In in the registry

The UK legalized medical cannabis in November 2018. But nearly three years on, prescriptions remain scarce on the country’s National Health Service (NHS) and many doctors reportedly remain skeptical about the medical benefits of cannabis.

To help boost the scientific validity of cannabis-based drugs, the private cannabis clinic Sapphire Medical Clinics Ltd. launched its UK Medical Cannabis Registry last June. The data platform aims collect and analyze clinical information from patients taking medical cannabis treatments in the UK and the Channel Islands.

The researchers behind the new study, many of which work for Sapphire Medical Clinics in some capacity, utilized this registry to identify patients using cannabis for chronic pain.

Most patients (65 percent) had never used cannabis prior to their prescription. Almost half of them (48 percent) had been diagnosed with chronic pain unrelated to cancer; nearly a quarter (24 percent) were living with neuropathic pain, and less than a fifth (16 percent) has been diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

After surveying the patients’ quality of life, sleep, and their levels of pain and anxiety, the researchers noted significant improvements, on average, from one, three, and six months on from starting treatment.

Around 30 percent of patients incurred adverse side effects at some point along their treatment plan, but these were characterized as either mild or moderate in intensity.

“This research is the first of its kind in Europe and we continue to review condition and product-specific outcomes via The UK Medical Cannabis Registry,” Dr Simon Erridge, head of research and access at Sapphire Medical Clinics, commented in a statement. “Though this is still observational data it will inform critical future research including Randomised Controlled Trials.”

More evidence for medical cannabis

Sapphire’s Medical Cannabis Registry isn’t the only British effort to improve the scientific understanding of medical cannabis.

Lead by the independent scientific body Drug Science, Project Twenty21 aims to enroll 20,000 patients by the end of 2021 into a two-year-long project to create the largest body of evidence on medical cannabis in Europe.

Speaking to Analytical Cannabis recently, Dr Anne Katrin Schlag, head of research at Drug Science, said that project’s first results showed improvements in patients’ quality of life scores and in the ability of patients to manage other secondary conditions, such as anxiety, insomnia, and depression.

“Our findings to date are promising, especially when looking at improvements in patients' quality of life, and we are hopeful that the longitudinal approach of T21 will substantially add to the scientific evidence base of medical cannabis,” she said.

“Moreover, we hope that the findings of Project Twenty21 will provide evidence for NHS funding where the benefits of treatment with medicinal cannabis are proven to outweigh the potential risks.”


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