Medicinal cannabinoids in palliative care

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Journal Article
British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 2018, 84 (11), pp. 2491 - 2494
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© 2018 The British Pharmacological Society The treatment of symptoms in people with palliative diagnoses begins with meticulous clinical assessment with treatment choice(s) selected based on an understanding of the symptom aetiology and the evidence which underpins its treatment. Increasingly, the merits of palliative care have been established earlier in the disease trajectory where treatment outcomes may include increased survival and maintenance of function. There is strong public support for the availability of medicinal cannabis, particularly for people with palliative diagnoses. There are several areas where there is potential for symptom benefits through modulation of the endocannabinoid system, though clinical data to date has been inconclusive in key symptoms such as pain and nausea, and data from other settings such as chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting not readily extrapolated. Ideally exploration of medicinal cannabinoids should occur within a clinical trial to accelerate the evidence base to inform practice. In people with refractory symptoms, the consideration of unregistered products or off-label prescribing should be guided by the potential influences of pharmacokinetic, pharmacodynamic and drug–drug interactions, supported by an informed discussion with the patient, and regular review of net clinical benefit.
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