New research has found that the legalization of medical cannabis has been linked to a reduction in the use and prescription of opioids for patients with cancer. The research involved a cross-section analysis of data on insurance claims from more than 38,000 individuals who had recently been diagnosed with cancer.
The analysis included 34 states and was carried out by researchers at the University of Texas, Harvard University, Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Weill Medical College of Cornell University. The researchers’ objective was to examine how the existence of more cannabis dispensaries influenced opioid prescription.
Researchers discovered that medical marijuana legalization implemented in the period between 2012 and 2017 was associated with a 5.5% to 19.2 % relative reduction in the rate at which opioids were dispensed. The researchers stated that medical cannabis could be serving as an opioid drug substitute among some patients who were undergoing treatment for cancer.
This results come after the scientists discovered that, in general, the legalization of medical cannabis with dispensary allowances was linked to a higher decrease in the rate of one or more opioid days, especially for individuals who had recently received breast cancer diagnoses. They also discovered that the legalization of medical marijuana was linked to a decrease in pain-related hospital events among patients suffering from lung cancer and, to a lesser extent, breast cancer patients. The researchers noted that such decreases were observed soon after medical cannabis legalization came into effect.
In their report, the investigators theorized that some mechanisms could help explain their observations. For instance, they hypothesized that having legal access to medical cannabis may have prompted oncologists to prescribe less opioids. They also wrote that medical cannabis legalization may also have been linked to a decrease in the demand for opioids by patients who used cannabis to manage their pain as well as patients who used cannabis as an alternative to the pharmaceutical drugs.
In their conclusion, the investigators noted that more research was needed to shed light on the nature of these links and implications for patient outcomes. This is in addition to highlighting some of the limitations the study faced.
The study’s findings were reported in the “JAMA Oncology” journal. The results largely align with prior research on prescription trends and state-level marijuana reform. For instance, a separate study also found that allowing legal access to medical marijuana enabled patients to decrease their use of opioid painkillers or stop using them completely.
Many companies, such as India Globalization Capital Inc. (NYSE American: IGC), are developing cannabinoid-based formulations focused on alleviating chronic pain, so the number of cancer patients using opioids is likely to drop even further once these novel drugs become available.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to India Globalization Capital Inc. (NYSE American: IGC) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://cnw.fm/IGC
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