Researchers urge medical marijuana over opioids to treat neuropathic pain
published on October 9, 2015 by Mike Hager in The Globe and Mail
Canadian doctors should use medical marijuana instead of frequently abused opioids to treat patients with neuropathic pain and a host of other conditions cannabis has been proven to combat, Vancouver-based HIV/AIDS researchers argue in a newly published editorial.
Thomas Kerr, Julio Montaner and Stephanie Lake of the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS argue the Canadian Medical Association is holding pot to a higher standard than other pain-relieving pharmaceutical drugs and is ignoring high-quality, peer-reviewed studies on the use of cannabis. Their editorial is in the latest edition of the Canadian Journal of Public Health.
Dr. Kerr, co-director of the centre’s Urban Health Research Initiative, said five recent randomized control trials and two systemic reviews have found marijuana helps relieve neuropathic pain. Yet many doctors are still loathe to prescribe a drug that has not been approved by Health Canada.
“The evidence supporting the therapeutic use of cannabis is actually much stronger than the use of other drugs that are used to treat the same conditions and it also seems, in many cases, that cannabis has a more favourable side-effect profile,” Dr. Kerr said.
He said opioids, such as oxycodone, hydromorphone and morphine, are increasingly being prescribed and have contributed to nearly half of all overdose deaths in the country. Canadians are the second-largest per capita consumer of opioids in the world.
“Opioids are killing people right now,” said Dr. Kerr, whose previous research helped prove the efficacy of Vancouver’s controversial supervised-injection site, known as Insite. “There is no association with cannabis and mortality, and yet North America is in the midst of, really, what is a public-health emergency associated to opioid overdose deaths.”View the full article