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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

Largest medicinal cannabis study attracts multi-stakeholder collaboration

Health Industry Hub | August 28, 2023 |

Pharma News: Australians with chronic health conditions have a unique opportunity to participate in an unprecedented study aimed at uncovering the potential of medicinal cannabis treatment. This QUEST Global study is set to become the world’s largest investigation into the influence of medicinal cannabis on health economic outcomes and quality of life for individuals contending with chronic health issues.

Championed by Curtin University and backed by medicinal cannabis supplier Little Green Pharma (LGP) in collaboration with HIF health insurance, the QUEST Global study aspires to elucidate whether medicinal cannabis holds the key to alleviating the economic strain of chronic diseases.

Early results from the QUEST Initiative spotlighted substantial enhancements in participant quality of life measures encompassing mobility, functionality, pain management, sleep patterns, as well as levels of anxiety and depression.

Expanding upon the achievements of the QUEST Initiative, the QUEST Global study will delve into a more intricate evaluation of health economic outcomes. The central objective remains understanding if medicinal cannabis can tangibly reduce the volume of medications required by patients and their dependency on healthcare interventions.

Participants who are HIF insurance members are being granted priority access to the study, contingent on meeting specific eligibility criteria. These individuals are entitled to access medicinal cannabis products at discounted rates, with LGP offering medications starting from $135 per 50ml bottle or $130 per 10g sachet, including delivery charges.

Expressing enthusiasm about the initiative, HIF CEO Justin James underscored the organisation’s longstanding partnership with Little Green Pharma, reiterating their commitment to supporting research into the potential health advantages of medicinal cannabis.

He stated, “Our focus is on providing more choice and access to our members when it comes to treatment. We believe this study, like the QUEST Initiative, will provide insights that will be valuable not just to HIF and its members but the industry as a whole.”

Lead researcher Associate Professor Richard Norman, Curtin’s School of Population Health, emphasised that QUEST Global strives to confront authentic health challenges encountered by a substantial portion of the community.

“People living with chronic conditions such as pain, anxiety, insomnia and mood, development or movement disorders face significant challenges that impact their everyday life. Using medicinal cannabis as a treatment option can help to improve their outcomes and reduce their level of suffering and this study is an opportunity to quantify this,” Associate Professor Norman said.

“As part of the study, participants can access pharmaceutical-grade cannabis oils and flower medications made locally, as well as book a range of affordable, independent doctors who are experienced medical cannabis prescribers. We hope to gain more information about the benefits of using medicinal cannabis to treat chronic conditions and how we can make these types of medications more economical going forward,” he added.

LGP’s Head of Research and Innovation, Dr Leon Warne, expressed his excitement about the collaboration with Curtin, citing the institution’s reputation for impactful, high-quality research.

“QUEST Global seeks to assess changes in participants conditions, symptoms and economic factors related to health using self-reported outcomes. Information on patient quality of life via mobility, functionality, pain or discomfort, sleep issues, anxiety and depression, medication and health service utilisation will also be collected and analysed,” Dr Warne said.

Highlighting the emphasis on health economics, Dr Warne added “This means ongoing costs will be analysed and provide a framework for thinking about how Australia should allocate its limited health resources to meet people’s demands and needs for health care services, health promotion and prevention.”

The initiation of the QUEST Global study has been motivated by the favourable interim findings from the QUEST Initiative endorsed by MS Research Australia, Arthritis Australia, Chronic Pain Australia, and Epilepsy Action Australia. Spanning a duration of five years, the forthcoming study has intentionally refrained from imposing a cap on the number of candidates it aims to engage.

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