SYDNEY, July 27 (Xinhua) — Australia’s first medicinal cannabis trial testing whether the drug alleviates symptoms and pain for terminally ill patients and chronic sufferers will begin in the first of three trials next year.
Thirty Adult patients will begin the treatment at a Newcastle hospital, 150 km north of Sydney, in early 2016 with initial results expected by the end of that year, the New South Wales (NSW) government said on Monday.
“We do not want patients or carers having to play pharmacist – that is why it is so important to explore the safest and most effective ways we can deliver compassionate care and improve the quality of life,” NSW Premier Mike Baird said in a statement to local media.
University of New South Wales (UNSW) Chief Investigator Associate Professor Meera Agar will lead the first trial’s research team, staged in two parts to evaluate two types of cannabis products – vaporized leaf cannabis and a pharmaceutical product.
“(The trial) will assess the potential ability of cannabis to alleviate distressing symptoms including fatigue, low appetite, altered taste and smell for food, low mood, weight loss, nausea, insomnia and pain relief,” Agar said. “This will add to the existing body of evidence based research to help better understand and evaluate the potential benefits that medical cannabis products may have for terminally ill patients.”
The New South Wales government has previously announced it was investing 9 million Australian dollars (6.56 million U.S. dollars) to support medicinal cannabis clinical trials.
Medical marijuana one step closer in Queensland
Medical marijuana is one step closer in Queensland after New South Wales announced its first adult trials with the drug will begin next year.
Queensland announced it would join with NSW in decriminalising cannabis for medical use earlier this year, after previously taking a ‘wait and see’ approach to the issue.
The first of three trials will begin next year with about 30 adults at the Calvary Mater Newcastle Hospital.
Queensland Health Minister Cameron Dick said it was “an important step forward” and hoped to soon be able to provide relief to parents of children with conditions such as epilepsy.
“Our commitment as a state is to support the use of medical cannabis for children with drug resistant severe epilepsy, we hope that will follow shortly after what is happening in NSW at the moment,” he said.
“We are working with NSW in the development of those trials, but this is an important step forward in the important work that needs to be done, to make sure that medical cannabis is both safe and effective and when it comes to children, we need to be very careful that any drug and pharmaceutical that is used, is safe and effective and has limited side effects – hopefully no side effects at all.”
But there is no time line as to when that will happen as yet.
“We are working through that, hopefully that will be in 2016 as well,” he said.
“But our commitment was to work in partnership with NSW, as Victoria’s partnership was, but this is an important thing in Queensland to know.
“Work is happening, and that we are going into this important work to finalise those important trials.”
The announcement of the trial saw Mr Dick deliberately front up to the pre-Cabinet doorsteps to speak to media in stark contrast to his colleagues, who have continued their avoidance of the tradition.
Public Works minister Leeanne Enoch and Communities Minister Coralee O’Rourke both managed to sneak by while Mr Dick spoke, as did Deputy Premier Jackie Trad who managed a “see you later” as she walked through the doors.
Energy Minister Mark Bailey, who has perfected the three-stride-don’t-stop move into Cabinet, also declined to speak.
The vast majority of Labor ministers have made a habit of avoiding the doorstops, which is one of the only chances journalists have to grab cabinet ministers away from the protective shield of media advisors.