Canada’s first clinical trial to study medical cannabis and PTSD

University of British Columbia

BRITISH COLUMBIA – Tilray, medical marijuana producers, and the University of British Columbia (UBC) announced today that patient recruitment for Canada’s first clinical trial to evaluate the therapeutic potential of medical cannabis, as treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) will begin this month.

This trial will be one of the world’s first large-scale clinical trials to examine medical cannabis as a treatment for a mental health disorder, and the largest medical cannabis clinical trial to place in Canada in the last 40 years. The trial has received all necessary regulatory and institutional review board approvals and will begin as soon as patients are enrolled.

“We know there continues to be significant unmet need in the treatment of PTSD in Canada and around the world,” says study principal investigator, Associate Professor and clinical psychologist Zach Walsh of UBC’s Okanagan campus in Kelowna, which is hosting the study. “This trial will allow us to build on the anecdotal evidence supporting the potential use of medical cannabis to treat PTSD and hopefully help those who struggle with this debilitating condition. We are glad that people who suffer from PTSD may be eligible to take part in this cutting-edge study.”

The Phase II, triple blind, placebo-controlled, randomized, crossover clinical trial will gather evidence on the safety and efficacy of three potencies of medical cannabis (10 per cent THC, 10 per cent THC/CBD, and a placebo) to manage chronic, treatment-resistant PTSD symptoms resulting from a traumatic event. While the main treatments for people with PTSD are psychotherapy, medications, or both, many patients continue to struggle with the effects of PTSD. There is promising preclinical and anecdotal evidence supporting the potential of medical cannabis to alleviate PTSD symptoms, particularly among veterans. This research will add to the state of knowledge regarding the potential risks and benefits of cannabis as a treatment for PTSD, and provide critical insight about how cannabis of various chemical compositions any affect treatment outcomes.

PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that can occur following the experience or witnessing of a life-threatening event such as military combat, natural disasters, serious accidents, or physical or sexual assault in adult or childhood. Research suggests that PTSD affects more than nine per cent of men and women in Canada, and many more worldwide, and it is also estimated that up to 10 per cent of Canadian war zone veterans—including war service veterans and peacekeeping forces—will experience post-traumatic stress disorder following their service. Treatment is necessary in order to help those who have served their country, or experienced an unfortunate traumatic event, find coping methods to continue to live a full and normal life.

Tilray is the first and only Health Canada-approved licensed producer to announce a clinical trial studying the medical benefits of cannabis for a mental health condition. Medical cannabis used in the trial will be administered through a licensed medical vaporizer. Study participants will include 42 Canadians who meet clinical criteria for PTSD, due to trauma experienced during military service, as a first responder or police, or as the result of violence and/or sexual assault. The trial will begin recruitment in September 2016, and is scheduled to conclude in spring 2018.

This first-of-its-kind PTSD clinical trial is one of several research efforts underway at Tilray, a global leader in medical cannabis cultivation, production and research. Earlier this year, Tilray announced a ground-breaking research partnership in Australia with The New South Wales (NSW) Government, the University of Sydney and Chris O`Brien Lifehouse to develop a novel treatment for nausea and vomiting in chemotherapy. In the coming months, the company is poised to announce additional trials examining the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis for different conditions and diseases.

“Tilray is at the forefront of clinical research in the medical cannabis field. We are providing physicians and researchers with cannabis-derived study drugs that meet rigorous regulatory standards for human trials and which are based on studies indicating a high likelihood of success in treating specific diseases and disease-related symptoms,” says Dr. Catherine Jacobson, Director of Clinical Research at Tilray. “Methodologically sound research resulting from these trials is the best tool we can offer physicians to further understand the effectiveness of medical cannabis treatment for the myriad symptoms associated with conditions like PTSD and epilepsy, as well as those stemming from other treatments such as chemotherapy.”


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