Adherence, Safety, and Effectiveness of Medical Cannabis and Epidemiological Characteristics of the Patient Population: A Prospective Study

Lihi Bar-Lev Schleider, Raphael Mechoulam, Inbal Sikorin, Timna Naftali, Victor Novack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Despite the absence of rigorous prospective studies, there has been an increase in the use of cannabis-based medicinal products. During the study period, the use of medical cannabis in Israel was tightly regulated by national policy. Through a prospective study of approximately 10,000 patients, we aimed to characterize the medical cannabis patient population as well as to identify treatment adherence, safety, and effectiveness. Methods and Findings: In this study of prescribed medical cannabis patients, adherence, safety, and effectiveness were assessed at 6 months. Treatment adherence was assessed by the proportion of patients purchasing the medication out of the total number of patients (excluding deceased cases and patients transferred to another cannabis clinic). Safety was assessed by the frequency of the side-effects, while effectiveness was defined as at least moderate improvement in the patient condition without treatment cessation or serious side-effects. The most frequent primary indications requiring therapy were cancer (49.1%), followed by non-specific pain (29.3%). The average age was 54.6 ± 20.9 years, 51.1% males; 30.2% of the patients reported prior experience with cannabis. During the study follow-up, 1,938 patients died (19.4%) and 1,735 stopped treatment (17.3%). Common side-effects, reported by 1,675 patients (34.2%), were: dizziness (8.2%), dry mouth (6.7%), increased appetite (4.7%), sleepiness (4.4%), and psychoactive effect (4.3%). Overall, 70.6% patients had treatment success at 6 months. Multivariable logistic regression analysis revealed that the following factors were associated with treatment success: cigarette smoking, prior experience with cannabis, active driving, working, and a young age. The main limitation of this study was the lack of data on safety and effectiveness of the treatment for patients who refused to undergo medical assessment even at baseline or died within the first 6 months. Conclusions: We observed that supervised medical-cannabis treatment is associated with high adherence, improvement in quality of life, and a decrease in pain level with a low incidence of serious adverse events.

Original languageEnglish
Article number827849
JournalFrontiers in Medicine
Volume9
DOIs
StatePublished - 9 Feb 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • adherence
  • cannabidiol (CBD)
  • cannabis
  • cohort
  • pain
  • prospective
  • quality of life
  • tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)

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