Study Finds THC Safe and Effective for Treating Pain in Geriatric Patients

According to a new study published by the journal Schmerz and reported on by NORML, the administration of oral THC (dronabinol) safely and effectively reduces pain in geriatric patients.

For the study, which was published by the National Institute of Health, researchers assessed the use of dronabinol in the elderly (over 80 years of age) subjects with chronic pain. Oral THC administration was associated with a pain reduction of 30% or greater in over half of the patients. Ten percent of subjects experienced a greater than 50% reduction in their pain.

Authors concluded: “This study is one of the few analyses of the use of dronabinol in geriatric patients. We show that cannabis-based drugs (in this case dronabinol) are an effective, low-risk treatment option that should be considered early in therapy.”

“Dronabinol has been FDA-approved in the United States since 1985 as an anti-emetic and as an appetite stimulant”, states NORML.

The study’s full abstract can be found below:

BACKGROUND:

Geriatric patients often suffer from a long history of pain and have a limited life expectancy. Cannabinoid receptor agonists like dronabinol may be an effective, low-risk treatment option for geriatric patients with chronic pain.

OBJECTIVES:

The effectiveness and side effects of dronabinol therapy in geriatric patients are analyzed. The effects of the approval requirement are presented.

METHODS:

In our retrospective monocentric cohort study, the study population comprised all geriatric patients over the age of 80 years who were treated in our office since the cannabis law came into effect on 10 March 2017 until 17 July 2018 (evaluation date). Geriatric, nonpalliative pain patients (group A) and geriatric palliative patients (group B) were investigated. The basis of the evaluation was a questionnaire sheet that we use in our office with details of dosages, pain intensity, treatment effects and side effects from dronabinol therapy.

RESULTS:

By using dronabinol, 21 of the 40 geriatric patients (52.5%) achieved pain relief of more than 30%, 10% of the patients of more than 50%. On average, about four symptoms or side effects related to previous treatment were positively influenced. 26% of patients reported side effects. The rejection rates on the part of the health insurances were 38.7% (group A) and 10.3% (group B).

CONCLUSIONS:

This study is one of the few analyses of the use of Dronabinol in geriatric patients. We show that cannabis-based drugs (in this case dronabinol) are an effective, low-risk treatment option that should be considered early in therapy. Regarding the indication spectrum, further clinical studies and an approval-free test phase are necessary.

 

For more information on this study, titled “Dronabinol in geriatric pain and palliative care patients: A retrospective evaluation of statutory-health-insurance-covered outpatient medical treatment”, click here.

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