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Those with heart concerns warned over cannabis use

People with heart problems may be more at risk from cannabis use.



heart concept
Those with heart problems may be more at risk from cannabis use

People with heart rhythm disorders may be more at risk and should “be careful” when using cannabis, warn researchers.

A study of 2.4 million hospitalised cannabis users has found that those with an arrhythmia were 4.5 times more likely to die while in hospital than those without.

The research is presented at EHRA 2021, an online scientific congress of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).

There is limited knowledge about safety of cannabis in people with cardiac arrhythmias.

The study examined the burden of arrhythmias in drug users admitted to hospital, and compared length of hospital stay and deaths in hospital between those with and without an arrhythmia.

Researchers used the National Inpatient Sample database, which covers 97 percent of the US population. The study included 2,457,544 adult cannabis users admitted to hospital in 2016 to 2018. Of those, 187,825 (7.6 percent) patients had an arrhythmia. Atrial fibrillation was the most common, followed by abnormally slow heart rate and abnormally fast heart rate.

Patients in arrhythmia group were older: the average age was 50.5 years compared to 38.3 years for those without an arrhythmia. Those with arrhythmias also had more co-existing health conditions.

The researchers compared deaths between the two groups after adjusting for factors that could influence the relationship including age, sex, race, income, diabetes, heart failure, chronic kidney disease, obesity, and hospital location.

Cannabis users with an arrhythmia had a 4.5 times higher odds of in-hospital mortality compared to those without an arrhythmia. Patients with an arrhythmia had a longer length of hospital stay (5.7 days) compared to those without (5.1 days).

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“People should be aware of this devastating outcome and be careful when using cannabis if they have a concomitant heart problem,” said study author Dr. Sittinun Thangjui of Bassett Healthcare Network, Cooperstown, US.

“Our study highlights that heart rhythm disorders may be a warning sign for an increased risk of death in people who use cannabis.

“More studies are needed to confirm our results. In the meantime, it seems sensible to screen these patients for arrhythmias if they present to hospital so that those with a heart rhythm problem can be closely monitored.”


Royal Society of Medicine and Integro Clinics announce pain and cannabis medicines event

The event takes place on October 11 from 8:30 to 17:30. It will explore the potential of cannabis medicines in the field of pain medicine in the UK



Event: The Royal Society of Medicine logo in green and red on a white background

The Royal Society of Medicine has announced a collaborative event, Pain and cannabis medicines: Everything you want to know (but were too afraid to ask) in association with Integro Medical Clinics.

The event takes place on October 11 from 8:30 to 17:30. It will explore the potential of cannabis medicines in the field of pain medicine in the UK

Since the legalisation of cannabis medicines on prescription in November 2018, patients and clinicians alike have been awaiting more data or information regarding these medicines. 

The event aims to provide those attending with a comprehensive understanding of the uses of cannabis medicines and the practicalities of using them in their own practice. It will consist of presentations on the history, regulatory environment and pharmacology of cannabis medicines including the use of different cannabis-based medical preparations in treating pain and related symptoms in a wide variety of clinical fields in the context of the current UK regulatory framework. 

Event presentations

The day will feature presentations from international leaders in cannabis medicines such as Professor Raphael Mechoulam, the chemist who discovered the endocannabinoid system and THC, Dr Anthony Ordman, Leading UK Consultant in Pain Medicine and previous President of the Pain Medicine Section of the Royal Society of Medicine and Dr Arno Hazekamp PhD, who worked as Head of Research and Education at Bedrocan, the first European company to produce EU GMP grade cannabis medicines.  

If you wish to sign up, please click here.

Event speakers
Dr Anthony Ordman, Consultant in Pain Medicine

Event: A black and white headshot of Dr Anthony Ordman Founder of the highly respected Chronic Pain Clinic at London’s Royal Free Hospital, he is one of the UK’s most experienced specialists in the treatment of pain. For his contributions to Pain Medicine, Dr Ordman was awarded a Fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians in 2005, and he is the Immediate Past President of the Pain Medicine Section of the Royal Society of Medicine. Dr Ordman is also Senior Medical Consultant and Lead Clinician at Integro Medical Clinics and has a special interest in the potential benefits of cannabis medicines in pain medicine.

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Alex Fraser, Patient Access Lead at GrowPharma

Event: A black and white headshot of guest speaker Alex FraserAlex Fraser is a leading medical cannabis patient advocate. He is a patient himself having been diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in 2010 at 19 years old. In 2014 he founded the United Patients Alliance and has since appeared on mainstream media multiple times, including on the BBC and ITV, to highlight the urgent need for access to cannabis medicines for the many patients who may benefit from them. He has taken delegations of patients to parliament to give testimony to politicians at the highest levels and organised educational events, rallies and protests calling for law change on medical cannabis. In February 2019 Alex joined Grow Pharma, one of the leading suppliers of cannabis medicines in the UK, as their patient access lead. He utilises his extensive knowledge of medical cannabis, his understanding of patient needs and his network in the industry to ensure patient voices are heard and represented. His work includes informing top-level policymakers, educating healthcare professionals and conceiving and running projects that increase general awareness and provide practical help for patients.

Professor Raphael Mechoulam, Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel

Event: A black and white headshot Most well-known for the total synthesis of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and the discovery of the Endocannabinoid System. Since the inception of his research in the 60s, Professor Mechoulam has been nominated for over 25 academic awards, including the Heinrich Wieland Prize (2004), an Honorary doctorate from Complutense University (2006), the Israel Prize in Exact Sciences – chemistry (2000), the Israel Chemical Society Prize for excellence in research (2009) and EMET Prize in Exact Sciences – Chemistry (2012

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Dr Sally Ghazaleh, Consultant Pain Specialist

Event: A black and white headshot of a guest speakerDr Sally Ghazaleh, is a Pain Management Consultant at the Whittington Hospital, and the National Hospital of Neurology and Neurosurgery, London. She qualified from the University of Szeged Medical School, Hungary in 2000, and then completed her specialist training in the Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine at Semmelweis University in 2007. She went on a fellowship at University College Hospital, London, to gain her higher degree in Pain Medicine

During her time at the pain management Centre at University College Hospital, she gained extensive experience in dealing with and managing patients with complex multiple pain problems. She is accomplished at a variety of interventional and non-interventional treatments for this specific patient group. Sally specializes in managing patients with lower back pain, neck pain, neuropathic pain, abdominal pain, cancer pain, complex regional pain syndrome, post-stroke pain and Fibromyalgia. She has a particular interest in bladder and abdominal pain in women, and women’s health in general.

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Refractory epilepsy treatment containing THC approved for UK patients

This is the first time that the UK authorities have approved an an epilepsy treatment containing THC



THC treatment for refractory epilepsy
A doctor can issue a prescription for CannEpil+ for both adults and children for the first time

A new refractory epilepsy treatment, containing THC, has been approved for use in the UK for the first time.

A new cannabis treatment for refractory (or drug-resistant) epilepsy, containing THC, has been approved by the Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for prescription for patients in the UK. 

This is the first time that the UK authorities have approved an an epilepsy treatment that is on a clinical pathway (Phase IIB) containing THC. 

CannEpil+ which is produced by European based MGC Pharmaceuticals, will initially be used to treat 10 patients in the UK who suffer from the condition.

MGC Pharma will be providing CannEpil+ free of charge to these patients on compassionate grounds for six months. 

Now officially approved for import into the UK, a doctor can issue a prescription for CannEpil+ for both adults and  children.

The approval to import CannEpil+ into the UK is in response to the urgent need of some patients to have access to a clinical  product which has demonstrated its efficacy at treating refractory epilepsy, as well as its safety. 

Once the first 10 patients have commenced their treatment, CannEpil+ will undergo an observational trial with data being entered into a data collection app designed to establish a central platform to monitor the safety of treatment in patients  globally.  

Refractory epilepsy affects approximately 33 percent of adults and 20-25 percent of children suffering from epilepsy. In the UK, around 87 people are diagnosed with epilepsy in the UK every day.

MGC Pharma’s biosimilar effect-identical product, CannEpil has historical clinical safety and efficacy data.

It is expected that this, combined with the results from the observational study, and a further clinical trial that is currently under negotiation with a UK NHS facility, will provide specialist neurologists and general practitioners with the confidence to prescribe  CannEpil and CannEpil+ to patients in urgent need of treatment. 

Further Phase IIb randomised, double blind, placebo-controlled clinical studies on the drug are to begin in the final part of 2021. 

This will take place at the Schneider Hospital in Israel and within the NHS in the UK. It will focus on the safety and efficacy of CannEpil+ as a supplementary treatment in children and adolescents with refractory epilepsy. 

“This is a huge step forward for cannabis-based medications in the UK,” commented Robin Emerson, COO of Elite Growth Ltd and high-profile medical cannabis advocate. 

“As a father of a five-year-old girl I have witnessed first-hand how Jorja’s  life has been transformed by the use of a Cannabis based medication that contains THC. 

“With this product approval, patients that have tried everything else now have a product with some level of safety and efficacy for the treatment of  epilepsy that can be prescribed by their physician. 

“With the ongoing clinical trial portfolio that MGC Pharma have  developed, including a near term UK NHS based trial, we are answering the call of clinicians in the UK who are asking  for safety and efficacy data. The CannEpil+ programme we are executing will go a long way to moving cannabis-based  medications toward greater adoption and acceptance, opening up much needed access for patients in the UK.” 

Matt Hughes, co-founder of charity Medcan Support, whose son Charlie is prescribed medical cannabis for refractory epilepsy, told Cannabis Health: “This is great and welcomed news, we hope this helps families involved and builds on the current evidence base which already shows the use of THC is well tolerated, effective and safe under clinical guidance.”

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