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Pain management

Medical cannabis safe and effective in older people, study finds

Research has shown medical cannabis to be safe and effective for treating pain in older people

Medical cannabis in small cases

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Study supports the efficacy and safety of medical cannabis in older people, and researchers say it could allow reductions in the use of other prescription medicines, such as opioids. 

The use of medical cannabis is growing rapidly, but there have only been small studies on the safety and efficacy of the drug in older people. 

In a paper in the European Journal of Internal Medicine (2 February 2018), researchers studied 2,736 patients aged 65 years and over who were prescribed medical cannabis at a specialised clinic in Israel[1]. The most common indications were for pain (66.6%) and cancer (60.8%). 

After six months of treatment, 93.7% of questionnaire respondents said their condition had improved and pain was reduced from a median of eight to four on a scale of ten. Overall, 18.1% said they had stopped or reduced their dose of opioid analgesics. The most common adverse events were dizziness (9.7%) and dry mouth (7.1%). 

The researchers said the findings supported the efficacy and safety of medical cannabis in older people, and could allow reductions in the use of other prescription medicines, such as opioids. 

Citation: Clinical Pharmacist DOI: 10.1211/CP.2018.20204609

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