Tag Archives: Study

DEA says Inhaled is Better

Today the DEA announced that they have a new FDA approved form of THC called Syndros.  Syndros is the result of work of Insys Therapeutics to create a new oral THC that has 5mg per ML of solution. – FEDERAL REGISTER LINK

In the DEA’s findings they are planning to schedule this as a Schedule II drug because.

Dronabinol is a generic name for the (-) delta-9-trans isomer of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the primary psychoactive substance in marijuana. Dronabinol is the active pharmaceutical ingredient in Syndros. As stated by HHS, Marinol (synthetic dronabinol in sesame oil and encapsulated in a soft gelatin capsule) was approved by the FDA for medical use on May 31, 1985 and placed in schedule II based on its accepted medical use and high abuse potential. On July 2, 1999, Marinol was rescheduled from schedule II to schedule III because of the findings of the DEA that the difficulty of separating dronabinol from the sesame oil formulation and the delayed onset of behavioral effects due to oral route administration supported a lower abuse potential of Marinol as compared to substances in Schedule II. 64 FR 35928.

Going on to state:

HHS indicated that the formulation of Syndros (oral solution) is easier to abuse than Marinol because this liquid formulation can be manipulated to produce concentrated extracts of dronabinol for abuse by inhalation (smoking or vaping) or through other routes of administration. Because of the large amount of dronabinol in Syndros oral solution it has a greater potential for extraction than Marinol and thus has a greater abuse potential.

Based on the use of Cannabis by the general public DEA feels that this form of THC needs to be a Schedule II drug.

What you find when reading further down is that it appears DEA would rather people smoke it because of the onset of effects are easier to control.

Oral consumption of dronabinol, compared to inhaled THC, may result in psychoactive effects that are delayed and stronger with an increased risk of experiencing serious adverse events.

But then they quickly add:

When dronabinol (THC) is smoked, the drug rapidly reaches the brain and psychoactive effects are felt within minutes of inhalation, which allows the subject to control the dose more readily.

The DEA is full of contradictory things but this just about takes the cake.  Using a substance via oral methods pose issues that smoking or inhalation don’t and is better at controlling the dose.  However they are afraid that people will do just that.  Take this new drug and turn it into something they can control the dose better.

There is a time that this potential rule can be commented on, see the link at the top of the page to the federal register.

VA releases Medical Cannabis Report

If anyone has been watching the VA website they had a report about the medical use of Cannabis for Pain and PTSD.  The document has not been available for the public but through the power of the Freedom of Information Act we were able to get a copy.

This 124 page, well researched document is probably one of the most extensive looks at Cannabis done by a Government agency.  It not only looks at the use of Cannabis for Pain and PTSD but also looks at the harms of Cannabis use.

While they didn’t find much quality research on the medical use of Cannabis for Pain or PTSD they did find a lot of information.  The research they cite from all kinds of sources indicate that the lack of research is limiting their ability to make quality decisions on Cannabis for Medicine or Safety.

CONCLUSIONS

Although cannabis is increasingly available for medical and recreational use, there is very little methodologically rigorous evidence examining its effects in patients with chronic pain or PTSD. There is limited evidence that cannabis may be helpful in improving pain and spasticity in selected populations with MS, but there is insufficient evidence in other populations. There is insufficient evidence examining the effects of cannabis in PTSD populations. Cannabis is associated with an increased risk of short-term adverse effects, but data on its effects on long- term physical health vary; harms in older patients or those with multiple comorbidities have not been studied. Cannabis has been associated with short-term cognitive impairment and potentially serious mental health adverse effects such as psychotic symptoms, though the absolute risk and application specifically to chronic pain and PTSD populations are uncertain.

You can get the entire document here at this link – Benefits and harms of cannabis in chronic pain or post traumatic stree disorder

Pharmacists want more information

pmcIn a First of it’s kind study posted to PubMED shows that pharmacists want more information about medical cannabis.   The study conducted in Minnesota prior to Minnesota’s medical Cannabis program implementation shows that Pharmacists want more information on medical cannabis.  The Study was done by Joy Hwang, PharmD, MPH, Tom Arneson, MD, MPH, and Wendy St. Peter, PharmD

First the report determines that Minnesota Pharmacists, in general, have limited Knowledge of cannabis polices, regulations and felt they were not adequately trained.

Pharmacists reported limited knowledge of Minnesota state-level cannabis policies and regulations and felt that they were inadequately trained in cannabis pharmacotherapy. Most pharmacists were unprepared to counsel patients on medical cannabis and had many concerns regarding its availability and usage. Only a small proportion felt that the medical cannabis program would impact their practice. Pharmacists’ leading topics of interest for more education included Minnesota’s regulations on the medical cannabis program, cannabis pharmacotherapy, and the types and forms of cannabis products available for commercialization.

Unlike most states which have legal medical Cannabis Minnesota and a couple others have Licensed Pharmacists as the dispensers.  However in Minnesota these pharmacists are trained by their respective companies and have a great deal of knowledge about Cannabis use for medical purposes.

In these three states, pharmacists provide registered patients with consultations at one of the state-approved cannabis distribution centers. Moreover, they are the only health care professionals who are permitted to dispense cannabis products. This distinguishes these states from most other legalization states, where cannabis products—both medical and recreational—can be purchased from retail dispensaries that operate under the guidance of certified personnel known as “budtenders.”

The study was done to assess gaps in knowledge and concerns of Minnesota pharmacists.  The study conducted voluntarily via a web-based survey and had a 10% response rate by the states Pharmacists. The questionnaire had 14 questions they asked the pharmacists and also room for them to put in their own comments.

The majority of the respondents completed the survey and reported little concern about medical cannabis.

Most pharmacists rated themselves on the lower end of the Likert scale for self-perceived knowledge about medical cannabis and readiness to counsel patients on medical cannabis use (1 = poor; 7 = excellent) and concerns about medical cannabis use under the Minnesota program (1 = no concern; 7 = most concern)

Almost 90% of the respondents responded that they were less than moderately prepared to provide counseling services to patients using cannabis for medical purposes.

Pharmacists in general want more education.  This survey is of all pharmacists registered in Minnesota. Of those only a small number of them actually work with cannabis patients in the clinics that are available.  However it’s clear from this study that they want more education on Cannabis.

Respondents were very interested in learning more about medical cannabis in the following areas: state-specific rules and regulation (87%), pharmacotherapy (88%), and available types and forms of products on the market (82%). Fifty-three percent were interested in learning more about federal laws related to marijuana. Only 7% indicated no interest in learning more about any of these topics.

The study was conducted 2 months prior to Minnesota implementation of it’s cannabis program and there was a great deal of confusion about it.  Since the time of the survey information from a variety of sources including educational presentations to many hospitals, clinics, and hospital-clinic organizations in Minnesota with pharmacists as part of the audience, The University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy, Medical School and School of Nursing, full-day educational symposium on medical cannabis in April 2016, the Minnesota Pharmacists Association (MPhA) and the Minnesota College of Clinical Pharmacists.

The Study Concludes:

This study suggests that Minnesota pharmacists were not sufficiently prepared to work with patients in the medical cannabis program. Of those who provided survey responses, an overwhelming majority felt incompetent in medical cannabis clinical knowledge; however, almost half were unconcerned about the potential impact the program’s implementation would have on their practice. Nonetheless, pharmacists were interested in learning about medical cannabis and its state-specific regulation. Targeted education regarding cannabis pharmacotherapy, product availability and variability, and state-specific regulations should be available for health care professionals practicing in states with medical cannabis programs prior to program implementation and patient access.

 

Link to the study here – LINK

Copy of the study here – minnesota-pharmacists-and-medical-cannabis_-a-survey-of-knowledge-concerns-and-interest-prior-to-program-launch

 

WHO – Systematic Review of Cannabis Safety

who-report-safeIn a report to the upcoming WHO conference another report has been issued about the safety of Cannabis and it’s use in medicine.

The report acknowledges thousands of years of historical use of cannabis for medical purposes.  Unfortunately due to the limited number of published scientific studies on the few conditions they studied they didn’t find definitive proof of cannabis efficacy in the treatment.

What they did find is that in all cases there weren’t adverse side effects like other medications.

In regards to adverse events, the included studies considered many adverse events, the majority of them were of low to moderate gravity. For the most serious adverse events (i.e. CNS side effects, depression and confusion) no differences were observed between cannabis and placebo. Incidence of general psychiatric disorders was higher in the cannabis groups but results came only from two small studies (92 participants). In addition, frequency of dissociation was higher in the cannabis groups, and no studies considered the development of abuse or dependence.

The report Titled “Systematic reviews on therapeutic efficacy and safety of Cannabis (including extracts and tinctures) for patients with multiple sclerosis, chronic neuropathic pain, dementia and Tourette syndrome, HIV/AIDS, and cancer receiving chemotherapy Laura Amato, Marina Davoli, Silvia Minozzi, Zuzana Mitrova, Elena Parmelli, Rosella Saulle, Simona Vecchi DEPARTMENT OF EPIDEMIOLOGY LAZIO REGION, ASL ROMA 1 – ROME, ITALY”

Can be found at the following link – LINK

or we have archived it here – systematic_reviews_on_therapeutic_efficacy_and_safety

Therapeutic Cannabinoid Research

WHO Pre-review Report Cannabis and Cannabis resin

With the upcoming meeting of the World Health Organization (WHO) Expert Committee on Drug Dependence Thirty-eight Meeting in Geneva, on 14 – 18 November 2016 many are calling for Cannabis to be an agenda item.

coverIn a pre-view Report “Cannabis and Cannabis Resin Pre-Review Report A document prepared for the World Health Organization” was prepared by H. Valerie Curran, Philip Wiffen, David J. Nutt, Willem Scholten.  In their report they give all the reasons why Cannabis should be more than an Update Item on the agenda.

In their report to the WHO they state in the preface:

In the eighty years since cannabis and cannabis resin were last reviewed by the Health Committee of the League of Nations in 1935, both the social context of cannabis use and the science of drug dependence have dramatically changed. Yet, cannabis and cannabis resin continue to remain under the strictest control regime possible under the Single Convention, without a valid scientific re-assessment of this decision. Cannabis and cannabis resin are listed in Schedule I and Schedule IV respectively, which means that both remain strictly prohibited worldwide.

then adding that the WHO is acting in a manner that appears to make continued prohibition illegitimate

The current scheduling of cannabis is in marked divergence with the Convention’s principle that scheduling of substances should be based on a scientific assessment by WHO. In the absence of a recent assessment, the continued prohibition of cannabis appears completely illegitimate even though it may be legal.

38ccdThey then proceed to ask the WHO to conduct a Scientific Review of cannabis and cannabis resin

A scientific review by the WHO, the only authoritative global body to make such an assessment, would greatly legitimize international policies and their national implementation. A scientific assessment of cannabis and cannabis resin appears most timely given the many debates that have emerged on this issue across the world in recent years.

In the fifty years since it’s inception the WHO has never conducted a scientific review of cannabis.  Despite it’s mandate to review the substance.

The scheduling under the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs assumes a scientific justification. However, cannabis and cannabis resin have never been evaluated by WHO since it was mandated the review of psychoactive substances in 1948.

The purpose of the pre-review report is to clarify the position of the current state of use both medically and none medically.

The purpose of a Pre-review is to determine whether current information justifies a Critical Review. For evaluating substances in a Pre-review, the categories of information are identical to those used in Critical Reviews. At the stage of the Pre-review, the Expert Committee must decide whether the information justifies a Critical Review. If it finds that the data available may justify changing the scheduling of cannabis and/or cannabis resin, the Committee should recommend a Critical Review in its next Meeting.

The 53 page report, or 75 with cites, covers everything from adverse reactions, LD50 level, and pretty much everything you ever wanted to know about cannabis and how it works.  The report is remarkable in it’s completeness.

Conclusions Despite that the scheduling system of substances under the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs is supposed to be based on scientific assessments, the WHO has never reviewed cannabis and cannabis resin. This means also that the Expert Committee continues to recommend that cannabis is not to be used medically despite growing evidence of considerable medical use world-wide, including the availability of a pharmaceutical preparation with a marketing authorization in multiple countries. Many countries are struggling with the impact of the prohibition of cannabis with its wide negative impact on societies (including through human rights violations) and on drug markets and drug use, including on the market of synthetic cannabinoids.

Committee recommendations are needed on the following topics:

1. Whether a Critical Review should be conducted for reviewing the current scheduling in Schedules I and IV. Each of the following reasons would justify a recommendation for a Critical Review: a. because WHO has never conducted a Critical Review, meaning that there is no scientific justification for the current scheduling; b. because the wide-spread medical use, including the use of preparations with a marketing authorization is in contradiction to listing in Schedule IV; c. because it is not clear whether the dependence-producing properties of cannabis and cannabis resin are between codeine and morphine (justification for Schedule I) or between dextropropoxyphene and codeine (justification for Schedule II) or below those of dextropropoxyphene (justification for not scheduling).

2. On the medical use of cannabis and its preparations (which can include revoking old recommendations by the Committee)

3. On the need of quality control on cannabis and cannabis products for medical and non-medical use.

Here is a link to the piece – LINK

Here is the report itself just in case it disappears from the net – whocannabisreport

Therapeutic Cannabinoid Research

Does Cannabis Use Equal Abuse?

As we have searched through various databases about Cannabis a consistent theme has developed.  Use = Abuse when it comes to Cannabis.

This just doesn’t make any sense.  Just because something is used doesn’t mean it’s abused.  Unfortunately because of state and federal laws, Use = Abuse.  At least that is what it looks like when you look at NIDA and other cannabis studies on use.

It also appears in many law cases.  The accused is said to have a cannabis use disorder.  What is a Cannabis Use Disorder?  Meaning the person violated the state or federal law that Cannabis is a schedule substance and not legal to buy like you can alcohol or tobacco?

Dr. Damon concluded that defendant suffers from … mild cannabis use disorder in a controlled environment, and antisocial personality disorder.

apaAccording to the DSM 5th revision Cannabis Use Disorder is described as

Cannabis use disorder or cannabis dependence is defined in the fifth revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) as the continued use of cannabis despite clinically significant impairment, ranging from mild to severe.

So Use Disorder, which sounds really bad, is actually not.   “continued use of cannabis despite clinically significant impairment”.  Not DESPITE clinically significant impairment.  So simply using Cannabis is all it takes to get this “Disorder”.  But if there is no impairment how can there be a disorder?  That remains to be understood.

Price of Big Pharm Cannabis

It’s pretty clear with the recent developments that Big Pharm is seriously looking at Cannabinoids.logo  hgDPF-j4_400x400While the vast majority like GW Pharm are using synthetic versions there are plant derived cannabinoids and the plant itself being used in clinical studies.

The cost of Synthetic Cannabinoids is easy to determine.  Sigma-Aldrich offers Cannabinol for $25 a milligram.  A single milligram of THC costs almost $50.  Cannabidiol is also nearly $50 a milligram.  Synthetic Cannabinoid medications are going to be expensive.  Given that a dose of 10mg THC – <1mg CBD needed for pain the cost per dose is going to be over $500.

marijuana-001Plant based medications are in comparison cheap.  Even at the expensive distributors in a very restrictive state like MN you can get 100mg of THC and 4mg of CBD for only $47.00 .  This comes down to $4.70 per effective dose. Clearly plant based extracts of Cannabinoids are cheaper than synthetically produced ones.

Big Pharmacy seems to be interested in making Cannabinoids but will the public be able to afford what they synthetically produce?  Not at $500+ a dose

 

US Pharmacopeia looking at Medical Cannabis

uspFollowing up on why would the USP want to be registered with the DEA we found, The US Pharmacopeia is looking at medical Cannabis and how to set a Monograph.  This is extremely important for anyone seeking to get FDA approval and DEA to re-schedule.

Based on what we have found in the USP website it’s clear that they are aware that Cannabis has a long history of medical use. “In 1850, USP admitted cannabis as a recognized drug in the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) and published an Extractum Cannabis (or Extract of Hemp) monograph”

usp-mjIt’s also pretty clear that they can develop standards for Cannabis products.  “USP has a long history of developing quality standards for herbal medicines, either as pharmaceuticals or as dietary supplements. USP has state-of-the-art laboratories throughout the world, and global scientific expertise in the form of USP staff and expert volunteers. This cumulative experience and expertise at USP could be used as a foundation for standard development for cannabis products.”  adding  “USP is considering organizing an open forum for discussion of these proposals to gather input for a suitable path forward toward the potential development of quality standards for medical cannabis.”

However they fear the results without working closely with the FDA and DEA.  “Another important consideration would be where to publish the standards that USP may develop for medical cannabis. USP’s flagship compendia, the USP–NF, are recognized as “official compendia” under United States law and contain standards for identity, strength, quality, and purity of medicines that are enforceable by the FDA. Generally, USP–NF only contains monographs for drugs that were included in USP before the 1938 amendment to the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, or drugs that are legally marketed in the U.S., which presents an important challenge given that marijuana is currently illegal under federal law. Given medical cannabis’ current legal status, the regulatory implications of publishing cannabis standards in USP–NF would need to be carefully reviewed and analyzed with input from regulators and other stakeholders. In particular, input from the FDA and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration will be critical.”

USP is clearly looking at Medical Cannabis and how they might control or help it’s regulation and use.  “As the use of medical cannabis is growing, the need for a USP public scientific standard to help ensure identity, purity, quality, and strength has been identified. Public quality standards for medical cannabis are important for many reasons, including the avoidance of adulteration, accurate identification, control of contaminants, and considerations regarding constituent composition and strength.”

Concluding “USP is committed to working with stakeholders to determine the advisability and feasibility of developing public quality standards for medical cannabis. USP welcomes comments on the issues and ideas presented in this Stimuli article and on all aspects of developing such standards, including scientific and public health considerations, legal and regulatory issues, and mechanisms for obtaining appropriate scientific expertise and ongoing stakeholder input.”

USP recognizing medical cannabis would help change DEA scheduling of Cannabis.  For more information and link to the Article they published follow here – LINK

The USP recently filed an application with the DEA to deal with Cannabis a schedule I substance.

Prof at U of Miss has Medical Cannabis

For those that don’t know the University of Mississippi grows cannabis for medical experiments.  What exactly they grow, and what they process isn’t totally known but a little bit has been leaked by the Prof in charge himself.

Prof ElSohly has been growing cannabis since 1975 under contract with NIDA, FDA and the DEA.  Under his contract he produces Medical Grade cannabis products.  Apparently he grows a number of varieties, makes a number of different products all of which are designed to be used for Medical purposes.

In a Rare appearance before a Justice Summit he explained the problems with Medical Cannabis and how he solved them.  The presentation he gives is long and is extremely detailed about the various cannabinoids and terpenes that are found in Cannabis and how they already know what some of them do.

A1The interesting part is his explaining how they grow and process their cannabis to make medical products for others to test and use.  First they do not rely on seed they, like most growers, they clone plants and then put them outside to finish growing.  On their 18 acre facility they grow and produce all the medical grade cannabis legally available in the United States.

As you watch the video below you will see how he describes in detail how they process cannabis they grow and produce medical grade cannabis.  All that remains to be done with his work is to get it FDA approved.

FDA approval requires a number of things, all of which Prof ElSohly has done.  He, and his team, grow under controlled conditions and produce medical grade cannabis by following the rules of manufacture and processing.  Thus he produces true medical grade cannabis.