Prof. Victor Novack, Head of Soroka Clinical Research Center, said, “In the study, we found that 90% of the patients who began treatment with medical cannabis continued it. There are very few drugs with a 90% compliance rate. Additionally, we found that the treatment was not only effective in terms of the pain patients felt, but also in terms of other detrimental effects.”
An Israeli observational study that was recently published in the European Journal of Internal Medicine reveals how elderly patients respond to medical cannabis. According to the results of the study conducted by investigators at Soroka University Medical Center and Ben-Gurion University in Beer-Sheva, in conjunction with Tikun Olam, 94% of the patients reported improvement in their general condition.
The study, which tracked over 2,700 patients aged 65 and older from the beginning of 2015 through last October, found that after six months of treatment, patients reported improvement in the level of pain they feel, from a median level of 8 to a median level of 4 on a scale ranking pain levels in values from zero to ten.
Prior to treatment, 79% of the study participants reported poor or very poor quality of life. About six months following treatment, 58% of participants defined their quality of life as good or very good. Approximately 60% of the patients described the treatment with medical cannabis as successful.
Approximately 11% of the study participants stopped treatment with medical cannabis. Most stopped the treatment, because they reported that they did not find it effective. Thirty-eight participants stopped the treatment, due to negative effects.
Over 18% of patients reported that they had reduced or completely stopped their use of opiates to relieve pain. Four percent of the respondents increased consumption of the opiates after beginning treatment with medical cannabis.
The director of the study, Prof. Victor Novack, Head of Soroka Clinical Research Center, and a professor of medicine at Ben-Gurion University, noted that he and the others involved in the study found that 90% of the patients who began treatment with medical cannabis continued the treatment. “There are very few drugs with a 90% compliance rate. The patients are voting with their feet,” said Prof. Novack, who also serves as the medical consultant to Tikun Olam.
The study found that patients over the age of 65 treated with medical cannabis reported fewer falls. At the beginning of the study, over 53% of the participants reported that they had fallen at least once in the last six months, while after receiving treatment, only 22% of the respondents reported falls in the last six months.
“We found that patients taking medical cannabis report that the treatment was beneficial not only for the level of pain they feel, but also for other detrimental issues,” stated Prof. Novack. “We found that the patients reported fewer falls, something that has a significant adverse effect on the elderly population. Our hypothesis is that they tend to fall less, because they stop or reduce their use of opiates, which have very serious side effects.”
Lihi Bar-Lev Schleider, a doctoral student at Soroka Clinical Research Center and Research Manager at Tikun Olan, who conducted the study together with Prof. Novack, Prof. Raphael Mechoulam and Ran Abuhatzira, said that the study is based on questionnaires completed by medical cannabis patients at the beginning of treatment and six months later. These are patients, who generally take a large number of drugs and suffer from diverse morbidities. The improvement the patients report in terms of level of pain, quality of life and consumption of drugs is highly dramatic.”
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