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      A Review of Scientific Evidence for THC:CBD Oromucosal Spray (Nabiximols) in the Management of Chronic Pain

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      Journal of Pain Research

      Dove

      THC:CBD oromucosal spray, chronic pain, neuropathic pain, nabiximols

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          Abstract

          The 20% prevalence of chronic pain in the general population is a major health concern given the often profound associated impairment of daily activities, employment status, and health-related quality of life in sufferers. Resource utilization associated with chronic pain represents an enormous burden for healthcare systems. Although analgesia based on the World Health Organization’s pain ladder continues to be the mainstay of chronic pain management, aside from chronic cancer pain or end-of-life care, prolonged use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or opioids to manage chronic pain is rarely sustainable. As the endocannabinoid system is known to control pain at peripheral, spinal, and supraspinal levels, interest in medical use of cannabis is growing. A proprietary blend of cannabis plant extracts containing delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) as the principal cannabinoids is formulated as an oromucosal spray (USAN name: nabiximols) and standardized to ensure quality, consistency and stability. This review examines evidence for THC:CBD oromucosal spray (nabiximols) in the management of chronic pain conditions. Cumulative evidence from clinical trials and an exploratory analysis of the German Pain e-Registry suggests that add-on THC:CBD oromucosal spray (nabiximols) may have a role in managing chronic neuropathic pain, although further precise clinical trials are required to draw definitive conclusions.

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          Most cited references 63

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          Endocannabinoid signaling in the brain.

          The primary psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta9-THC), affects the brain mainly by activating a specific receptor (CB1). CB1 is expressed at high levels in many brain regions, and several endogenous brain lipids have been identified as CB1 ligands. In contrast to classical neurotransmitters, endogenous cannabinoids can function as retrograde synaptic messengers: They are released from postsynaptic neurons and travel backward across synapses, activating CB1 on presynaptic axons and suppressing neurotransmitter release. Cannabinoids may affect memory, cognition, and pain perception by means of this cellular mechanism.
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            A tale of two cannabinoids: the therapeutic rationale for combining tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol.

            This study examines the current knowledge of physiological and clinical effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) and presents a rationale for their combination in pharmaceutical preparations. Cannabinoid and vanilloid receptor effects as well as non-receptor mechanisms are explored, such as the capability of THC and CBD to act as anti-inflammatory substances independent of cyclo-oxygenase (COX) inhibition. CBD is demonstrated to antagonise some undesirable effects of THC including intoxication, sedation and tachycardia, while contributing analgesic, anti-emetic, and anti-carcinogenic properties in its own right. In modern clinical trials, this has permitted the administration of higher doses of THC, providing evidence for clinical efficacy and safety for cannabis based extracts in treatment of spasticity, central pain and lower urinary tract symptoms in multiple sclerosis, as well as sleep disturbances, peripheral neuropathic pain, brachial plexus avulsion symptoms, rheumatoid arthritis and intractable cancer pain. Prospects for future application of whole cannabis extracts in neuroprotection, drug dependency, and neoplastic disorders are further examined. The hypothesis that the combination of THC and CBD increases clinical efficacy while reducing adverse events is supported.
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              The individual and societal burden of chronic pain in Europe: the case for strategic prioritisation and action to improve knowledge and availability of appropriate care

              Background Chronic pain is common in Europe and elsewhere and its under treatment confers a substantial burden on individuals, employers, healthcare systems and society in general. Indeed, the personal and socioeconomic impact of chronic pain is as great as, or greater, than that of other established healthcare priorities. In light of review of recently published data confirming its clinical and socioeconomic impact, this paper argues that chronic pain should be ranked alongside other conditions of established priority in Europe. We outline strategies to help overcome barriers to effective pain care resulting in particular from deficiencies in education and access to interdisciplinary pain management services. We also address the confusion that exists between proper clinical and scientific uses of opioid medications and their potential for misuse and diversion, as reflected in international variations in the access to, and availability of, these agents. Discussion As the economic costs are driven in part by the costs of lost productivity, absenteeism and early retirement, pain management should aim to fully rehabilitate patients, rather than merely to relieve pain. Accredited education of physicians and allied health professionals regarding state-of-the-art pain management is crucial. Some progress has been made in this area, but further provision and incentivization is required. We support a tiered approach to pain management, whereby patients with pain uncontrolled by non-specialists are able to consult a physician with a pain competency or a specialist in pain medicine, who in turn can recruit the services of other professionals on a case-by-case basis. A fully integrated interdisciplinary pain service should ideally be available to patients with refractory pain. Governments and healthcare systems should ensure that their policies on controlled medications are balanced, safeguarding public health without undue restrictions that compromise patient care, and that physician education programmes support these aims. Summary Strategic prioritization and co-ordinated actions are required nationally and internationally to address the unacceptable and unnecessary burden of uncontrolled chronic pain that plagues European communities and economies. An appreciation of the ‘return on investment’ in pain management services will require policymakers to adopt a long-term, cross-budgetary approach.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                J Pain Res
                J Pain Res
                JPR
                jpainres
                Journal of Pain Research
                Dove
                1178-7090
                14 February 2020
                2020
                : 13
                : 399-410
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Institute of Neurological Sciences , Nürnberg, Germany
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Michael A Überall Institute of Neurological Sciences , Nordostpark 51, Nürnberg90411, Germany Email michael.ueberall@ifnap.de
                Article
                240011
                10.2147/JPR.S240011
                7027889
                © 2020 Überall.

                This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/). By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms ( https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php).

                Page count
                Figures: 2, Tables: 2, References: 105, Pages: 12
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