Vir Pharma is focused on developing medical cannabis using whole plant extracts which preserve the balance of the whole plant and may enhance therapeutic benefits for patients. The below outlines our current understanding of cannabis and pain as well as advice on dosing and administration.
An overview of Cannabis and Pain
The following information is intended for educational purposes only and is not intended to market any specific product.
The use of medical cannabis for the treatment of chronic pain is supported by a large and growing body of evidence. Recent nationally sponsored assessments have found that medical cannabis can be effective in not only treating the patient’s pain but also addressing their comorbid sleep and anxiety disturbances (See below, citations 1, 2).
While most research has focused on tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive cannabinoid compound found in cannabis, recent research has shifted focus towards the non-psychoactive compound, cannabidiol (CBD). Interestingly, it has been suggested that co-administration of THC and CBD may enhance therapeutic benefits while reducing undesirable THC side effects (3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8). Many clinical trials support this notion (6, 7, 8).
For example, it has been shown that cannabis cigarettes containing higher levels of CBD produce less of the memory impairment and cognitive deficits associated with THC (7). However, the interactions between THC and CBD are highly variable and appear to depend upon dose ratios and the experimental measure being evaluated (9).
Anecdotal evidence from those countries that have already legalised medical cannabis programs shows further support for this thesis with pain patients preferring hybrid strains with combinations of THC and CBD (10).
Access to medical cannabis
Access the medical cannabis can be obtained through two primary routes, the Special Access Schemes A or B and the Authorised Prescriber Program:
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/24625.
Russo E, Guy GW; A tale of two cannabinoids: the therapeutic rationale for combining tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol, Med. Hypotheses. 2006;66(2)
Hayakawa K, et al; Cannabidiol potentiates pharmacological effects of Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol via CB(1) receptor-dependent mechanism. Brain Res. 2008 Jan 10;1188
Todd SM, Arnold JC; Neural correlates of interactions between cannabidiol and Δ9‐tetrahydrocannabinol in mice: implications for medical cannabis; Br J Pharmacol. 2016 Jan; 173(1)
Robson PJ; Therapeutic potential of cannabinoid medicines; Drug Test Anal. 2014 Jan-Feb;6(1-2)
Morgan CJ, et al; Impact of cannabidiol on the acute memory and psychotomimetic effects of smoked cannabis: naturalistic study: naturalistic study; Br J Psychiatry. 2010 Oct;197(4)
Russon EB, et al; Cannabis, pain, and sleep: lessons from therapeutic clinical trials of Sativex, a cannabis-based medicine; Chem Biodivers. 2007 Aug;4(8)