02:29pm Friday 15 December 2017

Research Is Lacking on Marijuana’s Effects in Patients with Rheumatic Diseases

Furthermore, not a single controlled study has examined herbal cannabis in the rheumatology patient population.

When investigators led by Mary-Ann Fitzcharles, MD, of McGill University Health Centre in Montreal, searched the medical literature, reaching as far back as the 1940s, the team identified only four small studies of short duration (from two to eight weeks) that included a total of 201 patients. The studies were published in 2006, 2008, 2010, and 2012. One study of patients with osteoarthritis was terminated prematurely because the active drug did not differ from placebo. The remaining three studies had a high risk of bias, and they reported only modest effects for pain relief and sleep promotion, but a high rate of side effects.

“In the context that rheumatic diseases, including osteoarthritis, are very common, these studies provide limited information, and we cannot draw any conclusions regarding efficacy or side effects—especially long-term side effects—associated with cannabinoid therapy,” said Dr. Fitzcharles. “Therefore, based on current scientific study, rheumatologists cannot recommend the use of cannabinoids in general, and medical marijuana in particular, as a therapeutic option for rheumatology patients.

Dr. Fitzcharles noted that while animal and laboratory studies have indicated a possible benefit of cannabinoids for managing pain and inflammation, evidence in humans is needed before such therapy can be endorsed. “The scientific community must call for further urgent research to determine the true role of cannabinoids in rheumatic conditions,” she said.

Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article may contact sciencenewsroom@wiley.com. (Would you prefer to access this paper instantly? You can register for a login to our Press Room here.)

Full citation: “Efficacy, tolerability, and safety of cannabinoid treatments in the rheumatic diseases: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials.” Mary-Ann Fitzcharles, Peter A. Ste-Marie, Winfried Häuser, Daniel J. Clauw, Shahin Jamal, Jacob Karsh, Tara Landry, Sharon LeClercq, Jason J. McDougall, Yoram Shir, Kam Shojania, and Zach Walsh. Arthritis Care and Research; Published Online: November 9, 2015 (DOI: 10.1002/acr.22727).

URL Upon Publication: http://doi.wiley.com/10.1002/acr.22727

Author Contact: To arrange an interview with Dr. Fitzcharles, please contact Julie Robert, Public Relations and Strategic Planning, at julie.robert@muhc.mcgill.ca or 514 934-1934 ext. 71381.

About the Journal
Arthritis Care & Research is an official journal of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), and the Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals (ARHP), a division of the College. Arthritis Care & Research is a peer-reviewed journal that publishes both original research and review articles that promote excellence in the clinical practice of rheumatology. Relevant to the care of individuals with arthritis and related disorders, major topics are evidence-based practice studies, clinical problems, practice guidelines, health care economics, health care policy, educational, social, and public health issues, and future trends in rheumatology practice. The journal is published by Wiley on behalf of the ACR. For more information, please visit the journal home page at http://wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/acr.

About Wiley
Wiley is a global provider of knowledge and knowledge-enabled services that improve outcomes in areas of research, professional practice and education. Through the Research segment, the Company provides digital and print scientific, technical, medical, and scholarly journals, reference works, books, database services, and advertising. The Professional Development segment provides digital and print books, online assessment and training services, and test prep and certification. In Education, Wiley provides education solutions including online program management services for higher education institutions and course management tools for instructors and students, as well as print and digital content. The Company’s website can be accessed at www.wiley.com.

Media Contacts:
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