Why Australians take medicinal cannabis

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The TGA’s extensive medicinal cannabis dataset, which includes 248,000 approved scripts, is the only one of its kind globally. No other country has monitored prescriptions in this way since the inceptions of their medicinal cannabis programs.

The size of the dataset allowed the researchers to find prescribing patterns in small, but significant, populations that otherwise might have been overlooked.

“Apart from the link between anxiety and flower products, we found other interesting associations, for example, prescriptions of topical CBD for convulsions,” Dr Cairns said.

“This usage has not been extensively explored.”

The authors note, however, that the data doesn’t include patient outcomes.

Dr Cairns said: “Unfortunately, we just don’t know if these treatments were effective for these patients, but this data highlights where we can focus our attention next – to do focused studies and/or clinical trials.”

“There is a clear, unmet need for effective drug treatments across a variety of conditions that may be being helped with medicinal cannabis. For example, it could be worth conducting high-quality clinical trials on the use of flower products for anxiety, and that is certainly something that the Lambert Initiative and its collaborators may look to do in future.”

Dr Cairns notes that the Lambert Initiative recently completed trials using CBD for anxiety (in partnership with Orygen), and with cannabinoids for insomnia (in partnership with the Woolcock Institute, and led by Lambert Initiative Research Fellow Anastasia Suraev).