Real world data from a British study involving over 900 medical cannabis patients has found high quality evidence (using the EQ-5D-5L rating of quality of life) that medicinal cannabis has a big impact on a patient's ability to lead a more normal life.
The patients involved were part of Project Twenty21, which was setup by the scientific body Drug Science. Project Twenty21 patients were supplied with subsidized medicinal cannabis on the agreement that Drug Science could collect and analyse their data. The overarching aim of the project is to collect data that may in future persuade the UK’s National Health Service to fund cannabis medicine where the benefits of treatment are proven to outweigh the potential risks.
The results have been very impressive, with a 51 percent increase in patients’ self-reported health and ability to lead a more normal life after 3 months.
Using EQ-5D-5L lends authority and standardisation to the data collected — this system of collecting quality of life data uses five dimensions: mobility, self-care, usual activities, pain/discomfort and anxiety/depression. Each dimension has five levels ranging from no problems to extreme problems and the patient is asked to indicate their health state by ticking the box next to the most appropriate statement in each of the five dimensions. Ultimately the boxes ticked can be combined into a 5-digit number that describes the patient’s health state.
The data confirmed that the medicinal cannabis patients were in substantially poorer health than the general population going into the trial, and had been unable to manage their diagnosed conditions with commonly prescribed medications.
This is the first published real-world data to be collected on medical cannabis in the United Kingdom. As well as the 51 percent increase in self-reported physical health, patients reported significant improvements in their ability to manage debilitating secondary conditions such as anxiety, insomnia and depression. Almost two-thirds of patients in the study also reported they had previously felt compelled to turn to illegal use in an attempt to manage their conditions.
Responding to the study, Prof David Nutt, Founder of Drug Science said “A lack of clinical evidence has made it difficult for doctors to confidently prescribe legal medical cannabis in the UK. These new findings provide a major step forward, and help to clarify the benefit these medicines can have for thousands of seriously ill patients.”