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Lack of efficacy of cannabidiol for relieving back pain: time to re‐set expectations?

Chris Hayes and Jennifer H Martin
Med J Aust 2021; 214 (8): . || doi: 10.5694/mja2.51025
Published online: 3 May 2021

In the absence of evidence of benefit for acute low back pain, its over‐the‐counter availability should be reconsidered

Decades of opioid overuse can teach us valuable lessons about how we should handle medicinal cannabinoids, including cannabidiol (CBD). One major lesson is that access to medicines should not move ahead of scientific evidence. Over time, evidence that context is critical has accumulated: using opioids to treat acute pain and cancer pain, in the management of opioid dependency, and in palliative care can be justified. However, the indication creep from acute to chronic non‐cancer pain was unwarranted. Consequently, clinicians are sensitive to new pain medicines being made available without evidence of benefit, and the motivations for accelerated access have been questioned.1

  • Chris Hayes1
  • Jennifer H Martin2

  • 1 Hunter Integrated Pain Service, Hunter New England Local Health Districts, Newcastle, NSW
  • 2 Centre for Drug Repuposing and Medicines Research, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW



Competing interests:

Jennifer Martin has a relative who is the chief medical officer of CannaPacific, a company licensed to grow cannabis; she herself has no financial or administrative involvement with the company.

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