By Emily Ledger
Restrictions on the use of medical cannabis have been being consistently loosened in many countries around the world as both public and scientific attitudes toward the drug continue to evolve. In the UK, medical cannabis was legalised for the treatment of a number of conditions in 2018.
The most common reason for the use of medical cannabis products is for the treatment of chronic pain. Evidence shows that cannabis-based medical products (CBMPs) can interact with the human endocannabinoid system to influence the modulation of central and peripheral pain processes.
Cannabinoids also have several other pharmacological targets which are implicated in the sensation of pain. CBMPs are increasingly being explored as a potential alternative to opioid medications, due to the increasing evidence of their associated harms and lack of data to support their effectiveness in chronic pain conditions.
A recent report by Sapphire Medical Clinics, published in the reviewed Journal of Clinical Pharmacology has for the first time revealed real-world evidence from The UK Medical Cannabis Registry on the first group of UK chronic pain patients treated with medical cannabis oils.
According to the data, patient-reported outcome measures following treatment with medical cannabis oils saw statistically significant improvements in health-related quality of life in patients at one, three, and six months following treatment. Furthermore, significant improvements were also identified in patients’ pain and discomfort subscale scores at one month and three months.
The most common primary diagnosis was non-cancer pain (48%), followed by neuropathic pain (24%) and fibromyalgia (16%).
Chronic pain, defined as persistent or recurring pain lasting longer than 3 months, is challenging to manage and pharmacological therapies, such as opioids, lack high-quality evidence to support therapeutic efficacy and are associated with known side effects. Research into CBMPs as a therapeutic option in the management of chronic pain, therefore, continues to gain interest.
Dr Simon Erridge, Head of Research and Access at Sapphire Medical Clinics, commented: “With the increasing number of prescriptions for medical cannabis in the UK, capturing patient outcomes and Real-World Evidence is essential for wider understanding and appropriate access for eligible patients.
“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. Though this is still observational data it will inform critical future research including Randomised Controlled Trials.”
The UK Medical Cannabis Registry is the first database of its kind in the UK, designed to monitor and collect real-world evidence of medical cannabis treatment. The registry was launched by Sapphire Medical Clinics – an award-winning medical cannabis clinic and the highest CQC-rated clinic of its kind.
Sapphire has also published outcomes of health-related quality of life across all conditions.