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Global study to explore health economic benefits of medical cannabis

The Australian study is expected to be the world’s largest on the health economic impact of medical cannabis.

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The study will assess whether medicinal cannabis reduces the economic impact of chronic disease.

Researchers in Australia will explore whether treatment with medicinal cannabis can ease the economic impact of chronic health conditions.

Australians living with one of 200 chronic conditions may now be eligible to participate in what is expected to become the world’s largest study into the impact of medicinal cannabis treatment on health economic outcomes and quality of life for patients suffering from chronic health conditions.

The QUEST Global study will be conducted by researchers at Curtin University and is sponsored by medicinal cannabis supplier Little Green Pharma (LGP), with the support of the Health Insurance Fund of Australia (HIF)  – the first Australian health fund to publicly declare support for medicinal cannabis treatments and provide rebates on these products.

Following the success of the original QUEST Initiative, the study will assess whether medicinal cannabis reduces the economic impact of chronic disease, by reducing both the number of medications a patient requires and their need for healthcare services.

Early findings from the QUEST Initiative have demonstrated significant improvement in participant quality of life indicators, which include metrics such as mobility, functionality, pain, sleep issues, anxiety and depression.

QUEST Global will focus on a more detailed assessment of health economic outcomes, including the potential for medicinal cannabis to reduce the number of medications a patient requires and their need for healthcare services.

The study will be conducted over five years and has no cap on candidate numbers.

Lead researcher, Associate Professor Richard Norman, from Curtin’s School of Population Health, said QUEST Global aims to address real health challenges faced by many in our 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,” he commented.

“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.”

LGP head of research and innovation, Dr Leon Warne, said he was excited to be partnering with Curtin on this initiative, drawing on its strong reputation for quality research with real-world impact.

He added: “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.

“The increased focus on health economics in QUEST Global will mean 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.”

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Sarah Sinclair is a respected cannabis journalist writing on subjects related to science, medicine, research, health and wellness. She is managing editor of Cannabis Health, the UK’s leading title covering medical cannabis and CBD, and sister title and Psychedelic Health. Sarah has an NCTJ journalism qualification and an MA in Journalism from the University of Sunderland. Sarah has over six years experience working on newspapers, magazines and digital-first titles, the last two of which have been in the cannabis sector. She has also completed training through the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society securing a certificate in Medical Cannabis Explained. She is a member of PLEA’s (Patient-Led Engagement for Access) advisory board, has hosted several webinars on cannabis and women's health and has moderated at industry events such as Cannabis Europa. Sarah Sinclair is the editor of Cannabis Health. Got a story? Email sarah@prohibitionpartners.com / Follow us on Twitter: @CannabisHNews / Instagram: @cannabishealthmag

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