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J Pain Symptom Manage. 2013 Aug;46(2):207-18. doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2012.07.014. Epub 2012 Nov 8.

An open-label extension study to investigate the long-term safety and tolerability of THC/CBD oromucosal spray and oromucosal THC spray in patients with terminal cancer-related pain refractory to strong opioid analgesics.

Author information

1
Shropshire and Mid-Wales Hospice, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, United Kingdom. jeremyjohnson@severnhospice.org.uk

Abstract

CONTEXT:

Chronic pain in patients with advanced cancer poses a serious clinical challenge. The Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)/cannabidiol (CBD) oromucosal spray (U.S. Adopted Name, nabiximols; Sativex(®)) is a novel cannabinoid formulation currently undergoing investigation as an adjuvant therapy for this treatment group.

OBJECTIVES:

This follow-up study investigated the long-term safety and tolerability of THC/CBD spray and THC spray in relieving pain in patients with advanced cancer.

METHODS:

In total, 43 patients with cancer-related pain experiencing inadequate analgesia despite chronic opioid dosing, who had participated in a previous three-arm (THC/CBD spray, THC spray, or placebo), two-week parent randomized controlled trial, entered this open-label, multicenter, follow-up study. Patients self-titrated THC/CBD spray (n=39) or THC spray (n=4) to symptom relief or maximum dose and were regularly reviewed for safety, tolerability, and evidence of clinical benefit.

RESULTS:

The efficacy end point of change from baseline in mean Brief Pain Inventory-Short Form scores for "pain severity" and "worst pain" domains showed a decrease (i.e., improvement) at each visit in the THC/CBD spray patients. Similarly, the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire-C30 scores showed a decrease (i.e., improvement) from baseline in the domains of insomnia, pain, and fatigue. No new safety concerns associated with the extended use of THC/CBD spray arose from this study.

CONCLUSION:

This study showed that the long-term use of THC/CBD spray was generally well tolerated, with no evidence of a loss of effect for the relief of cancer-related pain with long-term use. Furthermore, patients who kept using the study medication did not seek to increase their dose of this or other pain-relieving medication over time, suggesting that the adjuvant use of cannabinoids in cancer-related pain could provide useful benefit.

KEYWORDS:

Cancer; THC/CBD oromucosal spray; cannabinoid; delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol; pain

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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