A Potful of Pain Relief

On January 15, 2007, GW Pharmaceuticals reported results achieved by Sativex, its mouth spray made from pot, in a multi-center, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study of nearly 300 patients with diabetic neuropathic pain.

The study participants were already taking the best available pain treatments, without relief. Even among those difficult patients, 30 percent showed an improvement in pain, and one third of those showed an over 50 percent improvement in pain. This is one of the highest levels of positive response seen in the published literature.

Unfortunately, the study results were somewhat confounded by the fact that the people who were spraying the placebo started feeling pretty good as well. For that reason, although Sativex beat the placebo in all respects, the difference between Sativex and the placebo did not reach statistical significance.

Sativex, which is refined from pot grown in heavily fortified greenhouses, is available only in Canada at the moment, for use with multiple sclerosis. GW Pharmaceuticals is working toward approvals for other pain-relieving applications, including diabetic neuropathic pain.

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