If you’ve been living with chronic pain, you’ll know how hard it can be to perform simple everyday tasks like getting out of bed in the morning.
The good news is Aussie researchers may have found a solution — and no, it doesn’t involve loading up on large doses of drugs. A new study has found medicinal cannabis can safely provide much-needed physical and mental relief to patients who rely on large doses of drugs, such as morphine, to manage severe pain.
For the study, ran by Zelira Therapeutics in conjunction with St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne and Emerald Clinics in Perth, participants took a daily dose of cannabinoid medication, in addition to their regular medication. After a two-week dosing period, participants experienced reduced levels of pain, stress, depression and anxiety while experiencing no serious adverse events.
Zelira Therapeutics Managing Director, Dr Richard Hopkins said the results exceeded the company’s expectations. He said: “This is one of the first clinical trials to assess the safety of medicinal cannabis on patients whose pain is so debilitating that they need to take large doses of opioid medications to get through the day.
“Not only did we found that our cannabinoid formulation is safe for them to use and did not result in any serious side effects, but we have also seen promising positive effects on their physical and mental wellbeing. We are now well placed to continue our efforts to develop cannabis medicines to help the thousands of Australians who are looking for a safer and better way to manage their chronic pain.”
Dr Hopkins went on to say prescription opioids for treating chronic pain are linked to serious side effects, which is why it’s “so important that we find alternative medication to treat chronic pain”.
Meanwhile, Associate Professor Yvonne Bonomo from St Vincent’s Hospital added: “This trial showed that ZTL-103 [cannabinoid medication] was safe and well-tolerated in patients diagnosed with chronic pain who were also taking high oMEDD oral morphine equivalent daily doses). This is encouraging given that treatment of chronic pain patients is often complicated by the number of different concurrent medications they can be taking to treat a range of underlying conditions.
“We were also pleased to observe positive efficacy signals for patient-reported pain, stress, anxiety and depression following treatment, which are all measures that impact patient well-being.”
According to a recent report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), more Australians than ever visited their GP for chronic pain in 2015-2016 and an estimated 1.6 million people over the age of 45 lived with persistent, ongoing pain in 2016.