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Mult Scler. 2012 Feb;18(2):219-28. doi: 10.1177/1352458511419700. Epub 2011 Aug 30.

A placebo-controlled, parallel-group, randomized withdrawal study of subjects with symptoms of spasticity due to multiple sclerosis who are receiving long-term Sativex® (nabiximols).

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James Paget University Hospital, Pain Management Department, Gorleston on Sea, UK.



Open-label studies are not ideal for providing robust evidence for long-term maintenance of efficacy of medicines, especially where medicines provide symptom relief and where long-term use of a placebo may be problematic and not ethical.


To evaluate the maintenance of efficacy of Sativex in subjects who have gained long-term symptomatic relief of spasticity in multiple sclerosis (MS), and to assess the impact of sudden medicine withdrawal.


An enriched enrolment randomized withdrawal study design was used. Eligible subjects with ongoing benefit from Sativex for at least 12 weeks entered this 5-week placebo-controlled, parallel-group, randomized withdrawal study. Each subjects' previous effective and tolerated dose was continued.


A total of 18 subjects per group were enrolled. Demographics showed a mean duration of MS of 16.4 years, spasticity 12.7 years, mean duration of Sativex use of 3.6 years (median 3.4 years) and a mean daily dose of 8.25 sprays. Primary outcome of time to treatment failure was significantly in favour of Sativex (p = 0.013). Secondary endpoints showed significant changes in the Carer and Subject's Global Impression of Change scales in favour of Sativex.


Maintenance of Sativex efficacy in long-term symptomatic improvement of spasticity to a group of subjects with MS has been confirmed using this study design.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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