Port Macquarie Base Hospital is one of seven hospitals to participate in an expanded medicinal cannabis trial for chemotherapy patients.
The pilot will take about 12 months and will include some 80 patients.
The trial has been operating at Orange Health Service since December 2016 with patients at Port Macquarie Base Hospital, Campbelltown, Concord, Royal North Shore, Calvary Mater Newcastle, Coffs Harbour and Wollongong hospitals added to the world-first trial,
The trial aims to prevent chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting using new generation anti-nausea products alongside cannabis products.
Chris O’Brien Lifehouse in Camperdown is leading the chemotherapy trial, which looks at how a cannabis product can assist with nausea where standard treatments have failed.
Associate Professor Peter Grimison, the lead researcher for the trial and oncologist at Chris O`Brien Lifehouse cancer hospital says the trial will take at least 12 months.
“If results are sufficiently promising then a larger and more definitive trial involving 250 patients will take a number of years,” he said.
If results are sufficiently promising then a larger and more definitive trial involving 250 patients will take a number of yearsAssociate Professor Peter Grimison
“There are not costs for patients to be involved in the trial.
“The target group is patients receiving chemotherapy who have persistent nausea and/or vomiting despite our best anti-nausea medications.
“It is a controlled trial, and is only open to patients receiving particular types of chemotherapy, who are not already taking cannabis, and willing not to drive while on the study medication.”
The lead researcher said the trial has sourced medical cannabis in a capsule form contacting equal amounts of THC and CBD (cannabidiol) from Tilray, which is a Canadian company producing pharmaceutical-grade cannabis.
The trial has been recruiting patients from Orange and Chris O`Brien Lifehouse since December 2016, and is now also recruiting patients from a number of other metropolitan and rural cancer centres around NSW, he said.
“The trial executive committee are happy that the trial is making good progress, and there have been no unexpected or serious side effects.
“Preliminary results about the effectiveness of the treatment won’t be available until next year, after 80 patients have participated in the trial.
“It is important to understand how effective medical cannabis is for this group of patients, and its potential harms.
“This will give patients and their doctors confidence about in which situations medical cannabis is likely to be helpful,” he said.