Australia's first medicinal cannabis trial to begin early 2016

July 28, 2015 5:50 am 

SYDNEY, July 27 — Australia's first medicinal cannabis trial testing whether the drug alleviates symptoms and pain for terminally ill patients and chronic sufferers will begin in the first of three trials next year.

Thirty adult patients will begin the treatment at a Newcastle hospital, 150 km north of Sydney, in early 2016 with initial results expected by the end of that year, the New South Wales (NSW) government said on Monday.

"We do not want patients or carers having to play pharmacist — that is why it is so important to explore the safest and most effective ways we can deliver compassionate care and improve the quality of life," NSW Premier Mike Baird said in a statement to local media.

University of New South Wales (UNSW) chief investigator Associate Professor Meera Agar will lead the first trial's research team, staged in two parts to evaluate two types of cannabis products — vaporized leaf cannabis and a pharmaceutical product.

"(The trial) will assess the potential ability of cannabis to alleviate distressing symptoms including fatigue, low appetite, altered taste and smell for food, low mood, weight loss, nausea, insomnia and pain relief," Agar said. "This will add to the existing body of evidence based research to help better understand and evaluate the potential benefits that medical cannabis products may have for terminally ill patients."

The New South Wales government has previously announced it was investing 9 million Australian dollars (USD 6.56 million) to support medicinal cannabis clinical trials. (PNA/Xinhua)

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