Cannabis for pain management: is it for everyone?Veronika Litinski, MSc Medicinal Chemistry, MBA
Among the recreational users, less than 30% of Cannabis is used for specific medical reasons, such as chronic pain management, nausea treatment, or anxiety and sleep.
Source: A society in transition, an industry ready to bloom from Deloitte
According to Health Canada, there are just under 300,000 registered medical cannabis users in Canada<. For each medical condition, a person and their physician have a range of medications to choose from, including Cannabis and its derivatives. For some patients, the prescription of Cannabis can create a lot of new anxieties. Employers are often focused upon legal ramifications. Take the recent story of Toronto Transit worker Ellaine Farrell, barred from performing her subway operator duties since having been prescribed Cannabinoid therapy (CBD), which does not make you intoxicated according to her doctor and other medical experts. Ms. Farrell found the CBD therapy much more effective than the opioids she took for many years previously while performing her duties. A recent CBC News article reported: “The TTC said an independent medical expert has advised the transit agency not to allow any employee in a safety-sensitive position, like Farrell, to use any form of cannabis because they could get intoxicated”. Subsequently, Ms. Farrell returned to her position and now takes opioids again. Her doctor said, “The reality is that I’m not overly convinced that driving a TTC bus [sic] on opioids is safe either.”
People are using Cannabis-derived medications because they are intolerant of standard options
Patients’ poor tolerance for many traditional medications is common. Up to 20% of people suffering from chronic pain, which is often treated with opioids, may not find sufficient pain relief due to their genetics. For example, Codeine is an opioid pain medication used to treat mild to moderately severe pain. Its efficacy and risk are determined by variations in the CYP2D6 gene. Ultrafast metabolizers may experience overdose symptoms (sleepiness, confusion, or shallow breathing), while Poor metabolizers do not experience sufficient pain relief. Recent reports have indicated that for up to 10% of the population, opioids are not effective for pain management.
People who respond poorly to painkillers such as opioids like Ellaine Farrell says she did are increasingly being prescribed Cannabis-derived medications as alternative treatment.
Pillcheck helps identify patients who have limited treatment options for pain management and many other conditions.
The Pillcheck service includes a pharmacogenetic test and medication review by an independent clinical pharmacist. This specialist can suggest adjustments in current or previously tried medications based on the person’s drug metabolic profile.
Pillcheck covers over 170 medications (almost 70% of prescriptions) including the most common painkillers, opioids, antidepressants, antiepileptics, antiemetic medications, and many many others. Sharing your Pillcheck report and pharmacist’s review with your physician can help you feel better, faster and give you the peace of mind you’re on the right medications based on your unique genetic make-up.