Cannabis, aka marijuana is currently labeled as a Schedule I agent in the United States, which means it’s a drug that’s been classified as for potential high use and isn’t exactly accepted for medical use in the eyes of many. However, many cancer patients and those with other illnesses find that cannabis helps them with pain and other side effects from their condition.
Cannabis’ chemical components called cannabinoids are known to activate certain receptors in our bodies in order to create pharmacologic effects, especially in one’s immune system and central nervous system. This is what helps them feel better when the side effects of their illness kicks in and nothing else seems to help. Right now, there are a few commercially available cannabinoids like nabilone (Valeant Pharmaceuticals, Cesamet) and dronabinol (Abbive, Marinol) that are approved for cancer-related side effect treatment. But there are many more that are currently being researched and investigated.
Currently, there are several cannabinoid-based drug pipelines in the work, including the development of some to treat resistant or refractory pediatric epilepsies. These types of products are showing tremendous promise in regards to a variety of different illnesses, which is why so many are being investigated for use.
According to Ken Runyon, vice president and compliance officer of community relations at Novous Medical Detox Center located in New Port Richey, Florida, there are about 90 different cannabinoid-based products that are in the stages of being developed. Many of them are still in the early stages, but there is a high number that are already at the discovery or preclinical stages. These sorts of pain relieving medications aren’t as additive or have the some overdose potential as other opioid treatments, which is why there is such a large pipeline for them at the moment.
There are several companies developing cannabinoid-based medicines to help with things like seizures, multiple sclerosis, cystic fibrosis and systemic lupus erythematosus, to name a few. Farrah Wong, director, pipeline and drug surveillance at OptumRX says that the pivotal studies having to do with these pipeline agents are compared to placebos and right now how well these new drugs work compared to others on the market are currently unknown.