Dronabinol and chronic pain: importance of mechanistic considerations
until further notice
SourceExpert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy, 15, 11, (2014), pp. 1525-1534
Article / Letter to editor
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Expert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy
SubjectRadboudumc 10: Reconstructive and regenerative medicine RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences; Radboudumc 18: Healthcare improvement science RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences
INTRODUCTION: Although medicinal cannabis has been used for many centuries, the therapeutic potential of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta9-THC; international non-proprietary name = dronabinol) in current pain management remains unclear. Several pharmaceutical products with defined natural or synthesized Delta9-THC content have been developed, resulting in increasing numbers of clinical trials investigating the analgesic efficacy of dronabinol in various pain conditions. Different underlying pain mechanisms, including sensitization of nociceptive sensory pathways and alterations in cognitive and autonomic processing, might explain the varying analgesic effects of dronabinol in chronic pain states. AREAS COVERED: The pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics and mechanisms of action of products with a defined dronabinol content are summarized. Additionally, randomized clinical trials investigating the analgesic efficacy of pharmaceutical cannabis based products are reviewed for the treatment of chronic nonmalignant pain. EXPERT OPINION: We suggest a mechanism-based approach beyond measurement of subjective pain relief to evaluate the therapeutic potential of dronabinol in chronic pain management. Development of objective mechanistic diagnostic biomarkers reflecting altered sensory and cognitive processing in the brain is essential to evaluate dronabinol induced analgesia, and to permit identification of responders and/or non-responders to dronabinol treatment.
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