Twenty Illawarra cancer patients will use cannabis to ease chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting as part of a world-first trial.
The carefully selected patients will take medicinal grade cannabis capsules the day prior to treatment, and for five days afterwards, over a three-month period.
Wollongong Hospital is one of seven hospitals to this week be introduced into the trial, which is already in operation at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse in Sydney and the Orange Health Service and will run till 2021.
Medical oncologist Professor Morteza Aghmesheh will oversee the trial at Wollongong Hospital’s state-of-the-art Illawarra Cancer Care Centre.
- Scroll down to listen to Professor Morteza Aghmesheh talk about the world-first study
‘’For a long time we have known that chemotherapy causes nausea and vomiting for cancer patients,’’ he said.
‘’The evolution of different medications to prevent that has been successful to some extent … but one third of patients still experience those symptoms.
‘’There’s a lot of community demand for using cannabis oil in such cases … and we’re excited Wollongong Hospital is able to take part in this world-first trial.’’
Prof Aghmesheh said 80 patients – including the 20 local patients – were taking part in the first stage of the trial. If the capsules proved safe and effective, it would expand to 250 patients statewide.
Sourced from Canadian pharmaceutical company Tilray, the capsules contain two active ingredients, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
Prof Aghmesheh said many cancer patients were keen to take part.
“It’s being trialled in patients where standard treatments for nausea have failed, and who meet the eligibility criteria.’’
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said it was part of the government’s $21 million investment into medicinal cannabis research and reforms.
National Health and Medical Research Council director John Simes added: ‘’Due to the very limited evidence worldwide, it is not known whether cannabis products may be able to help these patients where other medications have not – this study aims to provide a definitive answer to that question.’’
Q & A with Professor Morteza Aghmesheh
1: How are patients chosen for the trial?
2: Whats is actually involved for those in the trial?
3: Where is the medicinal cannabis sourced from?
4: Is this study a precursor for more in depth research?