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Nabilone Beneficial, Well-Tolerated in Fibromyalgia

Randomized, controlled trial shows drug improved pain and quality of life

TUESDAY, Feb. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Nabilone, a synthetic cannabinoid, reduces pain and improves quality-of-life measures in patients with fibromyalgia, according to an article published in the Journal of Pain in February.

Ryan Quinlan Skrabek, M.D., of the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada, and colleagues randomized 40 patients with fibromyalgia in a double-blind fashion to be treated with titrated doses of nabilone or corresponding placebo for four weeks. Pain, quality of life and side effects were assessed at two-, four- and eight-week follow-up visits.

After four weeks, nabilone-treated patients had significant reductions in pain scores and improvements in quality of life compared to the placebo group. Though nabilone-treated patients reported more side effects than patients taking placebo, side effects were generally mild and no adverse interactions with concomitant medications were reported.

"The analgesic benefits of cannabinoids in the treatment of acute and chronic pain have already been established, so their benefit in fibromyalgia patients is not surprising," the authors write. "Whether this benefit is secondary to a clinical endocannabinoid deficiency in fibromyalgia patients as has been suggested or the synergistic relationship with endogenous opioids, it is clear from previous studies that cannabinoids act at many sites along pain transmission pathways."

This study was supported with a research grant from Valeant Canada, Ltd.

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