World-first medicinal cannabis trial for palliative care patients

Federal funding from the Medical Research Future Fund has guaranteed the go-ahead for a world-first medicinal cannabis trial involving cancer patients receiving palliative care. More than 200 terminally ill Queensland patients will be involved in the trial which will investigate the effectiveness of medicinal cannabinoids in relieving their symptoms.

Professor Janet Hardy, researcher with The Mater Research Institute and the University of Queensland will be leading the trial.

“This is the first trial with a holistic patient approach, trying to address all of the symptoms to see if we can reduce the burden,” Professor Hardy said.

The trial will involve two types of cannabinoids – THC which gives users a sense of euphoria, and CBD which has anti-inflammatory properties. It will determine which mix of the two will be most effective for pain relief.

“Cannabis, the plant, contains more than 100 different cannabinoids but we don’t know which one or combination of these, if any, will be best for the symptomatic relief of this patient group. The trouble at the moment is that nobody knows what to prescribe, how to prescribe it, what dose to give or what patients will benefit the most.

“Patients participating in the trial will be asked to score a range of symptoms including pain, nausea, appetite, bowel function, anxiety and depression. The primary outcome we are assessing is their ‘total symptom score’ representing their symptom burden,” Professor hardy said.

The 4 year trail is hoped to begin in three months.