The Pennsylvania Health Department has launched a private-public partnership to conduct clinical research on the efficacy of medical cannabis for the 21 conditions that qualify access to the state’s medical cannabis program. According to the agency, the research program is the first of its kind in the nation.
The first three clinical registrants are:
- PA Options for Wellness, Inc., which will work with Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey
- Agronomed Biologics LLC, affiliated with Philadelphia’s Drexel University College of Medicine
- MLH Explorations, LLC, which is affiliated with Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia
Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine called the research “essential to providing physicians with more evidence-based research to make clinical decisions for their patients,” saying the program positioned the state “on the forefront of clinical research” for medical cannabis.
“It is the cornerstone of our program and the key to our clinically-based, patient-focused program for those suffering with cancer, [post-traumatic stress disorder] and other serious medical conditions.” – Levine, in a statement
The research centers will convene in next month to outline what research they will be conducting, and the potential patient outcomes associated with their studies. All clinical registrants to the program must hold a state-issued medical cannabis grower/processor and dispensary permit and must partner with an approved academic research center.
The announcement comes nearly one year to the day after Gov. Tom Wolf (D) signed a bill amending the medical cannabis law to allow research programs. The research portion of the law had initially sparked a lawsuit by the state’s licensed dispensaries who argued that the research license went beyond the scope of the law. In all, eight medical schools have been approved as Academic Clinical Research Centers under the amendment.
Medical cannabis sales in Pennsylvania began in Feb. 2018 and, according to the Health Department, more than 159,000 patients have been certified to access the program.