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Cost-effectiveness of medical cannabis in treating chronic pain

Cost-effectiveness of medical cannabis in treating chronic pain

The opiate crisis is a pressing public health issue in Canada and the US. The death associated with the use of opioids may impact the life expectancy of Canadians (Source). It seems that currently approved medications for treating opioid use disorder (OUD) are not risk-free or effective in all patients and we need alternatives to manage patients with chronic pain or OUD (Source).

Medical Cannabis has been used for several years in Canada and the US and the majority of patients indicate pain as the main condition that they try to manage. However, due to regulatory and administrative challenges, there are still some gaps in evidence regarding the safety and cost-effectiveness of Cannabis-Based Medications (CBMs) to treat chronic pain.

In this retrospective study conducted in the state of New York, researchers measured the Quality of Life (QoL), the use of opioids, the cost of pain medications and reported side effects pre and post using CBMs for treating their chronic pain. Patients received THC: CBD (1:1 ratio) 10 mg capsules every 8-12 hours and vapour pen inhaler of THC/CBD in a 20:1 ratio for breakthrough pain.

They reported that QoL (measured by EQ 5D) improved by 77% (Pre 36 – Post 64, P< 0.0001), opioid daily dose reduced by 75% (from 79.94 (range 0 to 450) to 19.65 (range 0 to 150) morphine equivalents per day) and monthly cost of prescription pain killers decreased from $354.70 (range $0 to $1838) to $241.10 (range $0 to $477; P< 0.05). At the end of the study (3 months), dry mouth was the only reported side effect by 10% of patients (n=3).

The finding of this study proves that CBMs can be a cost-effective safe alternative for treating chronic pain to reduce the consumption of opioids in order to effectively control opioid crisis.

You can find the full article here .


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