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IACM-Bulletin of 15 April 2007

Italy: Government wants to allow the use of cannabis-based medicines

The Italian Senate should approve "the new law proposal by the Italian government, that simplifies the medical prescription of all analgesic drugs, not only opioid-based drugs but also those containing cannabis derivatives, without delay." This is the solicitation of Health Minister Livia Turco, at the meeting "Rehabilitation activities: yesterday, today, tomorrow", held at the Leonarda Vaccari Institute in Rome on March 22.

Asked a specific question on the use of cannabis derivatives for the treatment of pain by Andrea Pelliccia, neuropsychiatrist at the Sant'Andrea Hospital in Rome, the Minister replied: "You used a forbidden word", then specified: "I believe that pain therapy in certain pathologies is a measure of civility for our country. I would like to remind that the use of cannabinoids for pain is scientifically justified, so we should use everything available".

(Source: DoctorNews of 23 March 2007, www.doctornews.it)

Science: The use of cannabis does not influence the efficacy of two anti-cancer drugs, a clinical study finds

To investigate whether the use of a cannabis tea influences the pharmacokinetics and thus the efficacy of anti-cancer drugs a clinical study with 24 cancer patients was conducted at a hospital in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. 12 patients received irinotecan (600 mg) and 12 patients received docetaxel (180 mg). Three weeks later the same patients received both drugs concomitant with cannabis (200 ml herbal tea with 0,2 gram cannabis with 18 per cent THC) for 15 consecutive days in one dose in the evening, starting 12 days before the second treatment.

Medicinal cannabis administration did not significantly influence the course of the concentration of the two anti-cancer drugs irinotecan and docetaxel. Researchers concluded that the "evaluated variety of medicinal cannabis can be administered concomitantly with both anticancer agents without dose adjustments."

(Source: Engels FK, de Jong FA, Sparreboom A, Mathot RA, Loos WJ, Kitzen JJ, de Bruijn P, Verweij J, Mathijssen RH. Medicinal cannabis does not influence the clinical pharmacokinetics of irinotecan and docetaxel. Oncologist 2007;12(3):291-300.)

News in brief

USA: New Mexico
As expected Governor Bill Richardson signed the medical cannabis measure into law, so that the New Mexico became the 12th state of the US with a medical cannabis law. "This law will provide much-needed relief for New Mexicans suffering from debilitating diseases," Richardson said at the signing ceremony on 2 April. (Source: Reuters of 2 April 2007)

USA: Patients Out of Time
Some presentations of speakers at the Fourth National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics that took place on 6-8 April 2006 are now available online on You Tube (www.youtube.com/cannabistherapeutics). Further presentations will follow. (Source: Patients Out of Time of 6 April 2007)

Science: Lung cancer
A study conducted in Tunisia with 149 lung cancer cases and 188 controls conducted by the International Agency for Research on Cancer in France found out that smoking tobacco was associated with a 4 to 17-fold increased risk depending on dose. Smoking cannabis was associated with a 4-fold increased risk without a clear dose-response relationship. (Source: Voirin N, et al. J Thorac Oncol 2006;1(6):577-9.)

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