Cannabis trial for chemotherapy launched at Lifehouse

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The New South Wales government has launched a clinical trial for medical marijuana on the effects of chemotherapy-related nausea.

Premier Mike Baird and Minister for Medical Research Pru Goward announced the clinical trial last week at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, the cancer treatment centre which will run the trial for the government.

The trial is part of the state government’s $21 million commitment to support medicinal cannabis reforms. Other recent announcements include trials for the terminally ill and children suffering from epilepsy, which will begin shortly.

The cannabis trial at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse will involve around 300 patients who have not responded well to traditional anti-nausea and vomiting treatments.

“Medicinal cannabis has the potential to be of incredible benefit to many and our clinical trials will help us provide relief to those suffering from a range of serious illnesses,” Mr Baird said.

“Everyone knows someone who has been affected by cancer and this third trial will assess what role medicinal cannabis can play in controlling nausea and vomiting in patients undergoing chemotherapy.”

Canadian pharmaceutical company Tilray will supply the trial with specially-prepared tablets that contain marijuana extracts that maximise the drug’s anti-nausea properties and minimise its psychoactive effects.

Associate Professor Peter Grimison from Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, who will lead the trial research, said he and his team “really wanted to come up with a form of cannabis that would be acceptable to patients”.

Ms Goward added that there wasn’t enough time to wait for an Australian manufacturer.

“To wait for an Australian company to get up to scratch would delay what we’re doing,” she said.

“We committed to doing this within 12 months and that’s what we’re doing because there is so much suffering.”

The $2.8 million trial is understood to be the largest in the world of marijuana’s effects on chemotherapy patients.

Associate Professor Grimison said there had been other trials, but none as large as this.

“There are some preliminary trials showing that cannabis can help nausea due to chemotherapy but a lot of them are very old, when we didn’t have good medications,” he said.

“This will be the largest trial in the world in terms of cannabis relieving the nausea side-effects of chemotherapy.”

The trial will commence later this year with patient enrolment expected by mid-2016.

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