November 7, 2003
Multiple Sclerosis Society
The MS Society has commented on the results of the world's largest study to assess the medicinal potential of cannabinoids to treat people with MS which were published in The Lancet. The trial was funded by the Medical Research Council and supported by the Society.
Researchers found mixed evidence about the value of cannabis-derived treatments but concluded that they may be of benefit for some patients. There was little objective evidence that cannabis benefits people with MS but subjectively a majority of patients felt cannabis improved some of their symptoms.
Mike O'Donovan, chief executive of the Multiple Sclerosis Society, said, "The results of this large trial show the difficulty in assessing treatments for a variable and fluctuating condition like MS. Current methods of measurement do not always detect significant benefits patients may feel.
"Around two-thirds of those on the cannabis-derived drugs felt their spasticity was improved by them, even though that could not be shown clinically. More people on the drugs found relief from other very distressing symptoms like pain, spasm and sleeping problems than those taking a placebo.
"These improvements to quality of life can make a significant difference to people with MS, whose choice of treatments is very limited," he said.
"On the evidence now available, the MS Society believes those who might
benefit should be able to have treatment prescribed on the NHS. We also
believe that further research into cannabis-derived medicines for MS should
be vigorously pursued."
Copyright © 2003, Multiple Sclerosis Society