More MS news articles for March 2001

Medicinal cannabis trials gather steam

Date: 2001-02-28 07:37:08
By reporters

A study on whether marijuana can relieve peripheral pain in HIV patients is among the first projects that have been recently approved by a research centre funded by the state of California in the US.

The Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research (CMCR), affiliated with the University of California, gave its approval last week to proposals to test cannabis as a treatment for specific medical conditions.

Four out of 13 proposals were recommended for funding by the CMCR, and full approval is pending a final review by state and federal regulatory agencies.

Beyond the study on peripheral pain in HIV patients, the other proposals approved include an outpatient study of the effectiveness and safety of marijuana in treating muscle spasms, loss of function, and related pain in multiple sclerosis (MS), conducted by the university’s San Diego branch, and a study on its efficacy in treating painful HIV neuropathy. The fourth proposal is a study on the effects of medicinal cannabis on driving ability of patients with HIV-related neuropathy or spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis.

The approval is the first step in a long round of assessments by review groups, culminating in a final review by the US Food and Drug Administration, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). NIDA will supply the drug to researchers.

“We have followed a careful process of protocol review, engaging senior scientists from around the country on our Scientific Review Board to evaluate proposals and recommend funding for those that meet our high scientific standards,” said Prof Igor Grant, the director of CMCR.

A study is also under way in the UK to test the pain-relieving effects of marijuana on MS sufferers. The £950,000 study, run by Dr John Zajicek of Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, involves 660 patients from across the country. Each patient will be randomly selected to receive capsules of either cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol, a constituent of cannabis, or a placebo. MS affects about 85,000 people in the UK.

© Health Media Ltd 2001