Federal Health Agency Seeks Public Input On Pain And Cannabinoids

After December 2, a four week public comment window will open

Can plant-based medicines help patients with pain management?

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), within the Department of Health and Human Services, is asking for public submissions of scientific literature on cannabinoids, among other plant-based products, for a systematic review on pain. Cannabis plants contain dozens of cannabinoids, the most well-known of which are THC and CBD. 

The mission of the AHRQ is to “produce evidence to make health care safer, higher quality, more accessible, equitable, and affordable.” Specifically, the AHRQ is asking for the public’s help in providing studies, published or unpublished, to “inform” their Living Systematic Review on Plant-Based Treatment for Chronic Pain, according to a notice filed on the Federal Register. 

The systematic review will ask a number of key questions, some of which involve non-cannabis plant substances like kratom. One question will ask: In adults with chronic pain, what are the benefits of cannabinoids? And, conversely, in adults with chronic pain, what are the harms of cannabinoids? Research will cover a variety of forms of cannabinoid delivery, including inhaled, oral, topical, and buccal vehicles, and it will also include synthetic cannabinoids. Reviewers will be looking for specific “efficacy outcomes” related to pain, and adverse effects like nausea, dizziness, or development of a cannabis use disorder. 

The Evidence-based Practice Centers, the Federal Register filing noted, is “dedicated to identifying as many studies as possible” on plant-based treatment for chronic pain, “including those that describe adverse events.” To increase the number of studies included, the agency is supplementing database searches with this public request. 

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