More MS news articles for Sep 2001

Patients with chronic pain react well to trial

Tuesday, September 4, 2001
From Peter Foote

Cannabis has changed the life of long-term, chronic painsufferers by relieving their symptoms, according to a new study published yesterday in Glasgow.

The patients had all been given a medicinal extract of cannabis. A trial started last year with 23 patients suffering severe pain from nerve damage and muscle spasms due to multiple sclerosis.

Patients have described the effects ranging from "It has removed my pain and changed my life" to those who said they could now just get a good night's sleep, said Dr William Notcutt of the James Paget Hospital, in Great Yarmouth, England, who conducted the study.

The patients in the trial, some of whom had been smoking the drug, have been taking purified extracts called cannabinoids from the plant.

It is provided in a spray used under the tongue. "The traditional joint is not analysable and not suitable for medical practice," said Dr Notcutt.

While some patients gained maximum relief from pain, others were relatively unaffected or could not stand the side-effects. "We've had patients who have got high on it, some patients who faint and some who panic. We now know how to educate patients into the use of this particular drug," said Dr Notcutt.

"People do not want to be on a permanent high. They just want to get on with their lives and remain free of pain," he said.

Some patients using the drug have been able to return to work and are able to drive.

Dr Notcutt refused to be drawn on the legalisation question in a press conference at the British Association for the Advancement of Science Festival in Glasgow.

© 2001