MS News that Caught My Eye Last Week: Medical Cannabis in Australia, Solvents and Common Pollution, Ocrevus and PPMS

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by Ed Tobias |

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Medical Cannabis Favored to Treat MS Spasticity and Other Ills by Doctors in Australia, Survey Finds

I’ve been thinking about using medical marijuana to treat my multiple sclerosis (MS) spasticity — specifically CBD oil. It appears that some healthcare providers would also think that’s a good idea.

Most general practitioners in Australia favor prescribing medical cannabis to treat spasticity in MS or pain in select other diseases. But general practitioners are not allowed to under current laws, and they say they know little about its use, according to results of a national survey.

A study based on its findings, “Knowledge and attitudes of Australian general practitioners towards medicinal cannabis: a cross-sectional survey,” was published in the British Medical Journal Open.


Mix of Organic Solvent Exposure, Smoking and Genes Raise Risk of MS by 30 Fold, Study Says

It’s not brand new news that a person’s environment can play a role in the development of MS. It’s also not unheard of that exposure to paint fumes and the like can be detrimental to your health. But this study reports a specific link between solvents and MS risk. It suggests it may have to do with lung irritation producing an autoimmune response, which can trigger MS.

Exposure to organic solvents such as paint or varnish greatly raises the risk of MS, particularly in people who smoke or have a genetic susceptibility to the disease, a large-scale Swedish study reports.

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In fact, solvent exposure — linked to occupation, like being a painter or working in a paint factory — raised risk by 50 percent compared to those with no such long-term exposure, and was higher still when smoking or genes also came into play. The exposure times — the number of years a person worked with paints or varnish — was not defined by the researchers.


Common Air Pollutants Not Linked to MS Development, Canadian Population Study Reports

On the other hand, here’s a study of other environmental pollutants with a different conclusion.

Long-term exposure to three common air pollutants — fine particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, and ozone — were not found to be “convincingly” linked to incidence of MS in a large population study conducted in Canada.

The study, “Long-term exposure to air pollution and the incidence of multiple sclerosis: A population-based cohort study,” was published in the journal Environmental Research.


NICE Opposes Ocrevus as PPMS Treatment in UK’s Public-funded Health System

NICE is the group that recommends healthcare treatments in England and Wales based on cost-effectiveness. Earlier this year, NICE cleared Ocrevus (ocrelizumab) for RRMS, after first turning thumbs down. NICE reversed itself because it was able to work out a deal lowering the disease-modifying therapy’s price. Let’s hope it can work out the same deal so that it will allow Ocrevus to be used as a primary progressive MS (PPMS) treatment.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, known as NICE, has decided against recommending that Ocrevus be part of public-funded treatments for adults with PPMS.

The National Health Service (NHS) is the subsidized, publicly-funded healthcare system for England, with similar structures in other parts of the U.K. A positive NICE opinion obligates the service to offer the therapy at no or low cost.


Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Senator avatar


I hope that NICE would re-visit their opinion on Ocrevus for PPMS patients. Since this is the only medication to treat this disease I hope they will take a really close look at what this medication means to us. I am in the US and am taking Ocrevus, with first 2 1/2 doses in Sept. `17 and second full dose in March `18. I had no side effects and both times infusions went well with no problems. Ocrevus has enabled me to stop Solumedrol infusions, as it has alleviated pain in feet and calves. My shaky hands are slowing down to where I can write fairly confidently again. Enabled me to sweat again which gives me the ability to tolerate heat better so outside excursions are not so short lived, along with able to complete projects easier. I firmly believe Ocrevus is giving me back the ability to live a more normal live,

Maria Mouhtad avatar

Maria Mouhtad


We are different in our bodies and immune system.

Janet Van Name avatar

Janet Van Name

I used to smoke cannabis but had to stop in order to get pain meds to help with underlying pain issues. My MS was not a problem as long as I used the cannabis but once I stopped it I had to go on the disease-modifying drugs which are very costly. If our government would just put us in a study I believe that they too would see that it works well for MS.

Kate avatar


I have a knawing feeling these reports are just more speculative assumptions that produce a bunch of red herrings that are leading down the wrong path. Sadly just more wasting of time.....
and time that some people are running out of.


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