Anecdotal evidence suggests pain sufferers are swapping opioids for medicinal cannabis, but there hasn’t been any solid proof of its effectiveness in weaning patients off the drugs – until now. Rachel Williamson reports.

Emyria and Medlab Clinical are on the cusp of releasing data they say will prove medicinal cannabis has a quantifiable effect on opioid use once and for all.

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Medlab is currently beefing up its capacity to handle a mass of data collected from 805 chronic pain patients taking two to five different opioid medications.

They have been monitored for 1 to 12 months in an ‘uncontrolled’ trial looking at real-world evidence of opioid users and the company’s Nanabis treatment.

CEO Dr Sean Hall said the trial has a strong cohort of patients on a range of dosages with “big and meaningful numbers showing an opioid sparing effect”. Adding Nanabis to the medication mix “can reduce the total amount of opioids originally prescribed”, he said. 

Hall added Medlab has evidence to show patients can come off some medications around four days after starting on Nanabis. The company published data in April showing the treatment can bring down pain levels by 55%.

“We’re seeing opioid sparing and, depending on the patient and the disease state, it can be an early or a late experience,” he said. “We believe we have a very strong signal to say Nanabis can be a viable opioid alternative. We are seeing the ability to positively change MMEq (morphine milligram equivalent) in patients.”

Medlab CEO Dr Sean Hall: “big and meaningful numbers” showing an opioid sparing effect

Medlab’s upcoming real-world data follows a clinical study last year at Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital, which examined whether Nanabis could be used by people suffering pain from various types of cancer.