Hospital could be part of cannabis trial

IPSWICH Hospital could soon be taking part in revolutionary trials in trialling cannabis for post-surgery pain relief.Although the trust has not yet signed up to take part in the Medical Research Council trials, meetings are to take place next month to look into it.

IPSWICH Hospital could soon be taking part in revolutionary trials in trialling cannabis for post-surgery pain relief.

Although the trust has not yet signed up to take part in the Medical Research Council trials, meetings are to take place next month to look into it.

Jan Rowsell, spokeswoman for the Trust said they were being very positive about the research.

She said: "We are very interested in this and are involved in all sorts of research with the Medical Research Council.

"Meetings will be taking place in early September but we have not signed up to anything yet."

Hospital patients across the country who are scheduled to undergo surgery are being recruited to take part in the trials to find out if cannabis can provide pain relief after an operation.

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The trials are being carried out at hospitals throughout the UK in the hope of measuring the effects of cannabis plant extract against other pain-relieving drugs.

Doctors carrying out the study for the Medical Research Council are hoping to recruit 400 surgical patients to take part.

Each patient is to be randomly assigned to one of four oral pain- relieving treatments containing either standardised cannabis extract, tetrahydrocannabinol (an active ingredient in cannabis), a standard pain relieving drug, or a placebo.

The drug will be administered orally via a capsule containing a prescribed dose.

The pain relief and side effects will then be assessed over a six-hour period, with patients being asked to respond to questions about their pain and feelings.

Dr Anita Holdcroft, from Imperial College London, who is leading the £500,000 study, said anecdotal evidence suggesting cannabis could provide effective pain relief for a variety of debilitating conditions needed to be assessed scientifically.

She added that if oral cannabis plant extract was found to be effective and without adverse side effects, it could provide another pain relief option to doctors and patients.

DrugScope, a charity that aims to advise and inform on drug-related policy, welcomed the trials.

Frank Warburton, director of DrugScope, said: "The therapeutic benefits of cannabis have been well-known for some time.

"We welcome this trial which appears to be a sensible and rational exploration of these benefits, and look forward to seeing the results of the evaluation.''

A spokesman for the British Medical Association also backed the move.

He said: "BMA research has shown that although cannabis itself is unsuitable for medical use, some cannabis-based medicines have the potential to relieve pain.

"There has long been a need for more research into the effectiveness of cannabinoids for therapeutic purposes and this is a welcome development.''

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