A groundbreaking study by researchers in Canada is comparing cannabis-based treatments to fentanyl for patients with breakthrough pain.
Sante Cannabis, an independent research organization in Montreal, will facilitate the study. The effects of cannabinoids will be studied in comparison with fentanyl, a powerful opioid-associated with an epidemic of accidental overdoses both in Canada and worldwide. The cannabinoids will be produced by biopharmaceutical company Tetra Bio-Pharma, a leader in pharmaceutical cannabinoid research and development.
In a statement, Tetra claims at least 2,923 deaths attributed to opioids occurred in Canada during the first three quarters of 2017 alone. 92% of those deaths, the company claims, were related to accidental overdose, and fentanyl or it’ analogs were present in 72% of cases.
Traditionally used to treat “breakthrough pain” – which usually happens with cancer patients who have intense pain spikes despite taking long-term pain medication. However, overdose cases have reached critical levels according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse.
Dr. Antonio Vigano, Research Director of Sante Cannabis and McGill University attending professor and physician, pointed out that the need for immediate relief could cause some patients to “exceed the recommended dosage in the hope of obtaining a more rapid relief.” Dr. Vigano further asserts that cannabinoid-based pharmaceuticals could provide a much safer alternative to fentanyl and help reduce the number of overdose cases. Dr. Vigano is the Principal Investigator in clinical trials for both chronic pain and cancer patients. The trials are in phases 3 and two respectively.
“Through this trial,” Dr. Vigano said, “we are going to gather more evidence-based data on the safety, efficacy, and ease of administration of inhaled cannabinoids…” The results could help thousands of patients find a more safe alternative to fentanyl for breakthrough pain.