Australasia Medicine Association Tells Doctors Not to Prescribe Cannabis for Pain

The Faculty of Pain Medicine at the Australian and New Zealand College of Anesthetists is telling physicians not to recommend medical cannabis for chronic pain due to a lack of evidence.

Full story after the jump.

The Faculty of Pain Medicine at the Australian and New Zealand College of Anesthetists (ANZCA) is telling physicians not to use medical cannabis to treat non-cancer pain because of the lack of clinical evidence proving cannabis’ efficacy for pain, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

Professor Michael Vagg, dean of ANZCA’s pain medicine faculty, said medical cannabis products on the market “are not even close” to showing they are effective in managing chronic pain. The recommendation was backed by the International Association for the Study of 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. … “Substances like alcohol are more effective pound-for-pound but we don’t have extended opening hours at Dan Murphy’s for pain patients.” – Vagg via the Herald

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) does allow doctors to apply for special access to prescribe medical cannabis for pain. The agency’s head, Professor John Skerritt, said last week that the regulator had approved it’s 100,000th medical cannabis application this month. The majority of those approved applications were for chronic pain such as arthritis, neck or back pain, fibromyalgia, and migraines, while anxiety, insomnia, and cancer symptoms accounted for a fraction of medical cannabis prescriptions, the report says.

Iain McGregor, professor of Psychopharmacology and academic director of the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics at the University of Sydney, argued that if cannabis didn’t work to treat pain, why would people use it? He agreed that more clinical trials were needed but described the current system as “a galloping horse heading off into the future.”

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