Doctors are being told not to use medicinal cannabis to treat patients with chronic pain, warning there is no solid evidence it is effective, as Australia’s medical regulator approves its 100,000th cannabinoid script.
The recommendation from the country’s peak pain advisory body to doctors is: “Do not prescribe currently available cannabinoid products to treat chronic non-cancer pain unless part of a registered clinical trial.”
The Faculty of Pain Medicine at the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA) says there is no robust evidence from gold-standard studies that proves cannabinoid products effectively treat these patients’ suffering. Cannabinoids are the active chemicals in cannabis.
But the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is allowing doctors to apply for special access to prescribe medicinal cannabis products. Proponents argue the substances should be given the benefit of the doubt and offered to patients on compassionate grounds.
Dean of ANZCA’s pain medicine faculty Professor Michael Vagg said medicinal cannabis products on the market “are not even close” to showing they are effective in the management of patients with complex chronic pain.
“The research available is either unsupportive of using cannabinoid products in chronic non-cancer pain or is of such low quality that no valid scientific conclusion can be drawn,” the pain specialist and physician said.