That said, the review team noted that many studies were of limited clinical usefulness, given that patients only took Sativex for between six weeks and four months. No study set out to compare Sativex against other standard spasm-control medications, whereas others had patients routinely take Sativex beyond the maximum use (12 sprays daily) approved by U.K. authorities.
However, the British research team did cite one study that was well designed. And the result of that investigation: Sativex patients fared no better than patients not given the drug.
Sativex is by no means a cheap therapy, Phizackerley noted. At roughly $2.25 per spray, it costs upwards of 10 times more than standard spasm-control drugs.
So while acknowledging that additional research is now exploring a range of cannabis extract formulations, including tablets and capsules, he and his colleagues concluded that for the moment there is not yet enough evidence to warrant recommending that doctors and MS patients turn to this medication as a proven approach for the relief of spasms.
Nicholas LaRocca, vice president of health care delivery and policy research with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, said that although the Sativex option is not an approved drug intervention in the United States, "there is obviously a need for additional therapies for the many symptoms of MS."
LaRocca said: "I think this analysis speaks for itself. Clearly, right now there's insufficient data available to recommend Sativex for targeting spasticity. And because it's not available here, we mostly just have anecdotal reporting from patients who go ahead and use marijuana on their own. And there's an inability to verify these reports, which just raises questions about uncontrolled long-term use and safety."
So, LaRocca added, "for now it remains an open
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