Dr Hance Clarke tells MCN about the Medical Cannabis Real-World Evidence clinical trial.
Dr Hance Clarke, MSc, MD, PhD, FRCPC is the Medical Director of the Pain Research Unit at Toronto General Hospital. He is leading the pioneering Medical Cannabis Real-World Evidence clinical trial, which aims to gauge the effects of various forms of cannabis and cannabinoids on patients, using validated and standardised products to eliminate the common issue of batch-to-batch variance.
Participants in the trial will be able to select their preferred method of cannabis delivery using a dedicated portal and their experiences will be monitored over a six-month period. Dr Clarke tells us more.
What first drew your attention to the potential offered by medical cannabis?
As an anaesthesiologist and a pain physician I have had many patients over the years speak to me about the benefits of cannabis for pain, sleep, anxiety etc; and I could only listen and nod my head. As of 2014 with the new guidelines created in Canada, cannabis became a substance more accessible to patients and for healthcare providers to authorise and scientifically study. For decades patients have claimed that cannabis was useful for conditions such as HIV neuropathy (Toronto had one of the largest cannabis dispensaries for decades that served the HIV community). Furthermore, my pain patients would tell me that inhalational cannabis at night was what took the edge off their neuropathic pain symptoms and afforded them a great night’s sleep.
Over the past seven years the cannabis sector has exploded in North America and a global industry has developed. This is a moment where we start to identify products with therapeutic benefit. For the most part, we have no idea what the major constituents are in the products that patients are currently consuming and there is a huge variability from one purchase to the next. As a medically complex patient, you want to ensure that the product you consume today is the product that you will acquire three to four months from now and this certainly has not been the case. I would like to help create a sense of reliability and safety for my patients, given they must spend their hard-earned dollars on these products.