New research from pioneer of the Australian medical cannabis market, Little Green Pharma (LGP), is providing promising results for long-suffering patients with chronic pain.
LGP said its national study shows the positive effect of oral medicinal cannabis on chronic refractory pain in patients who have not experienced relief with existing pain medications including opioids, anti-inflammatories, and steroid treatments.
The study included 151 participants with common chronic pain conditions including arthritis, neuropathic pain and other musculoskeletal pain who had tried other pain therapies and failed to see improvement.
Patients receiving LGP Classic 10:10 (with a balanced ratio of THC and CBD) were monitored for an average observational period of 133 days.
The observational, open-label study found almost half of all patients benefitted from oral medicinal cannabis.
Almost half (47.9 per cent) of patients reported a statistically significant improvement in pain impact scores, suggesting an improvement in their quality of life, which LGP says is ultimately what matters to patients affected by chronic pain.
The majority of patients also reported meaningful improvements in sleep (49.3 per cent) and fatigue (35.6 per cent), two common problems for those with chronic pain.
“LGP is extremely pleased with these results that show the Classic 10:10 formulation has been scientifically validated and demonstrated a significantly positive effect on the impact of chronic refractory pain,” LGP head of research and innovation, and study author, Dr Leon Warne said.
“This study is important, as it provides an option for those patients who have not had success with other pain therapies and gives doctors some vital research they’ve been requesting since medicinal cannabis was legalised.”
The study also assessed the safety, tolerability, and self-reported effectiveness of the pharmaceutical-grade cannabis product (Classic 10:10) in relieving pain and other symptoms in adult patients diagnosed with chronic pain resistant to other treatments.
The severity analysis revealed the majority of adverse events (AEs) reported were mild.
Somnolence (sleepiness) and dry mouth/throat were the most common AEs experienced and no severe adverse effects were reported within the observational period for this cohort of patients.
This proportion of AEs is consistent with existing studies of registered medicinal cannabis products 3,4 and analgesics 5.
The research was conducted nationally within the independent network of CA Clinics.
Findings from this clinical study were published in February 2022 in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Medical Cannabis and Cannabinoids.
Chronic pain affects can negatively impact a person’s quality of life including their sleep patterns, social engagement, as well as their ability to work and conduct daily activities.
It can also cause emotional distress and lead to serious mental health problems including depression.
Patients undertaking the study were prescribed LGP Classic 10:10 medicinal cannabis oil.
Dr Joe Kosterich (MBBS), medical advisor at LGP, said this type of research is hugely encouraging for those seeking alternatives for pain relief.
“Studies such as this, led by researchers using quality, Australian-made medicinal cannabis, is what we want to continue to see to increase confidence amongst GPs in prescribing medicinal cannabis,” he said.
Dr Mark Hardy M.B.,B.S., FRACGP, FAChAM (RACP), from CA Clinics, said the research demonstrates the real-world impact of medicinal cannabis.
“In the study, patient-reported pain impact scores were significantly reduced across the entire patient group, and the majority of patients saw meaningful improvements in sleep and fatigue, which is impactful given the difficult, unmanageable nature of their pain.
“This underscores the importance of ensuring that patients have access to affordable, reliable and quality medicinal cannabis.”
Justin James, CEO of not-for-profit private health insurer HIF, said his company and Little Green Pharma had partnered to make medication costs more manageable for medical cannabis patients.
“Since medicinal cannabis was legalised more than 400,000 scripts have been written for patients by 715 authorised practitioners,” he said.
“HIF was very proud to be the first major private health insurer to publicly declare support for medicinal cannabis and one of the first to offer rebates for treatments under our Extras policies.
“This study reinforces the importance of alternative treatments for helping to ease chronic pain and the benefits of ongoing research into the efficacy of medicinal cannabis.”
About chronic pain
About one in five Australians suffer from chronic pain.
Pain is regarded as chronic when it does not go away and is experienced by a patient on most days of the week for at least three months.
A slightly higher proportion of females’ report having chronic pain than males do.
Almost two-thirds of people with chronic pain report that their pain interferes with their daily activities.
Australians suffering chronic pain are estimated to increase from 3.24 million in 2018 to 5.23 million people by 2050.