Sativex, a cannabis-based anti-spasticity medicine commercialized as oromucosal spray by GW Pharmaceuticals, improves the driving ability of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), according to researchers.
The findings were published in the journal Brain and Behavior, in a study titled “The influence of THC:CBD oromucosal spray on driving ability in patients with multiple sclerosis-related spasticity.”
Driving is an important task to help MS patients maintain the activities of daily living, including their independence, social interactions and access to work, healthcare, family and shopping.
However, MS is associated with physical, sensory and cognitive disabilities, like muscle spasticity or visual and auditory impairment, that may affect the daily living functions of patients.
Some MS treatments also are known to negatively affect the driving ability of patients. Disease-modifying drugs (DMDs), corticosteroids, and other medicines used to manage symptoms like depression, anxiety, pain and muscle spasticity, affect patients’ driving performance, including wakefulness, coordination, reaction times, and concentration.
In the study, researchers reviewed the effects of using Sativex on the driving performance of MS patients. Sativex is an oromucosal spray combining two of the most common types of cannabinoids — tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
Sativex is approved across the European Union and in other countries as a second-line therapy for adult patients with moderate-to-severe MS-related spasticity that is resistant to first-line anti-spasticity medications, such as Lioseral.
Researchers consulted published research articles, from January 2000 to June 2017, that focused on this theme.
The analysis revealed that Sativex use did not increase the number of motor vehicle accidents reported. In fact, most of the patients analyzed showed an improvement in driving ability after starting Sativex treatment.
Such improvements could be related to a reduced spasticity and/or better cognitive function as a result of cannabinoids’ consumption, the researchers suggested.
“THC:CBD oromucosal spray was shown not to impair driving performance. However, periodic assessment of patients with MS driving ability is recommended, especially after relapses and changes in treatment,” the researchers wrote.
The team highlighted that THC levels in the blood of patients using Sativex were significantly lower than the ones measured after recreational use of herbal cannabis. Each 100 microliters of spray contains 2.7 milligrams of THC and 2.5 milligrams of CBD. Nevertheless, these levels might be above the authorized limit in some countries.
“Blood THC measurements might be above authorized thresholds for some countries following administration of THC:CBD oromucosal spray, thus specific knowledge of each country’s driving regulations and a medical certificate are recommended,” the team advised.