Curtin University, Little Green Pharma (LGP) and the Health Insurance Fund of Australia (HIF) have joined forces to launch QUEST Global, following the success of the original QUEST Initiative research project.
Australians living with one of 200 chronic conditions may be eligible to participate in the study, which will examine the impact of medicinal cannabis treatment on health economic outcomes and quality of life for patients.
Early findings from the QUEST Initiative have demonstrated significant improvement in quality of life indicators, including metrics such as mobility, functionality, pain, sleep issues, anxiety and depression.
QUEST Global will focus on a more detailed assessment, including the potential for medicinal cannabis to reduce the number of medications a patient requires and their need for healthcare services.
Lead researcher Associate Professor Richard Norman, from the Curtin School of Population Health, said: “People living with chronic conditions… face significant challenges that impact their everyday life.
“Using medicinal cannabis as a treatment option can help to improve their outcomes and reduce their level of suffering and this study is an opportunity to quantify this.
“As part of the study, participants can access pharmaceutical-grade cannabis oils and flower medications made locally, as well as book a range of affordable, independent doctors who are experienced medical cannabis prescribers.
“We hope to gain more information about the benefits of using medicinal cannabis to treat chronic conditions and how we can make these types of medications more economical going forward.”
LGP head of research and innovation Dr Leon Warne added: “The increased focus on health economics in QUEST Global will mean ongoing costs will be analysed and provide a framework for thinking about how Australia should allocate its limited health resources to meet people’s demands and needs for healthcare services, health promotion and prevention.”
HIF was the first Australian health fund to publicly declare support for medicinal cannabis treatments and provide rebates on products. CEO Justin James said the not-for-profit was proud to continue supporting studies into the health benefits of medicinal cannabis.
He added: “We believe this study, like the QUEST Initiative, will provide insights that will be valuable, not just to HIF and its members, but the industry as a whole.”
QUEST Global will be conducted over five years and has no cap on candidate numbers. Study participants will be able to access medicinal cannabis products at a discounted rate, with all medications supplied by LGP.
The launch follows favourable interim results from the study’s forerunner, the QUEST Initiative, indicating significant improvements in the quality of life for Australians living with chronic conditions. The results are being compiled for peer review and publication.
The QUEST Initiative was endorsed by MS Research Australia, Arthritis Australia, Chronic Pain Australia, Epilepsy Action Australia and HIF. It was named R&D Project of the Year at the Cannabiz Awards in June.