NSW Medical Cannabis Trials Progress

NSW medicinal marijuana trials
Cannabis Image: BigStock

A small group of children have begun receiving cannabis based medicines in the Australian state of New South Wales, and a medical marijuana trial with cancer patients in the state isn’t far off.

According to The Newcastle Herald, arrangements are being finalised for a trial involving patients with advanced cancer, who will be administered medical cannabis called Bedrobinol.

Bedronbinol, produced by Netherlands company Bedrocan, is a strain of marijuana with a tetrahydrocannibinol (THC) level of  13.5% and a cannabidiol  (CBD) level below 1 %. The strain accounts for around 10% of the medical marijuana used in the Netherlands.

Bedronbinol is primarily administered to address pain, nausea, appetite and weight loss associated with cancer and treatment of the condition.

In the New South Wales trial, instead of smoking the material, it will be vapourised. Also known as vaping, vapourizing involves heating the material to a temperature that releases cannabinoids; but not to the point of combustion. This avoids the production of toxins that are created when plant material is burned.

The trial will be run at Calvary Mater Newcastle hospital and is expected to start in a couple of months.

In other NSW news, the compassionate access scheme for a select group of New South Wales children we mentioned in July has commenced. Around 12 children with severe drug-resistant epilepsy from the New England region have begun receiving Epidiolex, a cannabidiol based medicine.

“These children suffer from such severe, treatment-resistant epilepsy – some with hundreds of seizures a day – that they are too sick to take part in clinical trials,” said  Dr John Lawson, from Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick.

” This Scheme fills that gap in the hope of providing some relief to them and their families.”

Unlike THC, CBD has no intoxicating effect and is generally well-tolerated. The children participating will be closely monitored as part of the NSW Government’s $21 million commitment to medicinal cannabis research.

Epidiolex, produced by the UK’s GW Pharmaceuticals, is still considered an experimental medication and has not been approved by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). However, results from other clinical trials have been encouraging as to its efficacy in reducing the prevalence and intensity of seizures.