The Characteristics of Clinical Trials on Cannabis and Cannabinoids: A Review of Trials for Therapeutic or Drug Development Purposes
Cannabinoid Clinical Trials Systematic Review By Concinto

Systematic Review on Clinical Trials on Cannabis and Cannabinoids

Our systematic review of the registered clinical trials on cannabis and cannabinoids for therapeutic or drug development purposes has been published in Pharmaceutical Medicine. It underlines the past and current attempts to generate robust clinical evidence and identify existing knowledge gaps in this category.

We included 834 out of 2966 reviewed clinical trials. The number of registered clinical trials has constantly increased from 30 in 2013 to 103 in 2021. More than 40% of registered clinical trials in 2021 were phase II and phase III clinical trials. The mean number of trial enrollments for completed, ongoing, and terminated studies were 128, 156, and 542, respectively. Clinical research on Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), and the oral routes of administration dominate the field. Approximately two-thirds of clinical trials were conducted in five therapeutic areas (i.e., ‘Chronic pain,’ ‘Mental, behavioral or neurodevelopmental disorders,’ ‘Nervous system diseases,’ ‘Endocrine, nutritional or metabolic diseases,’ and ‘Neoplasms’). Pharmaceutical companies sponsored 39% of all clinical trials. However, trial sponsorships vary noticeably in different jurisdictions, likely due to, in part, different regulatory frameworks.

Our review highlights the diversification of clinical trials on cannabinoid-based medications in the past 21 years. This review underlines the increased interest in conducting clinical studies on new cannabinoid administration methods, such as topical applications and on the investigation of emerging phyto- and synthetic cannabinoids. Moreover, more clinical trials have been designed to explore the potential therapeutic benefits of cannabinoids in areas such as mental, behavioral, or neurodevelopmental disorders and skin diseases. There is a need for granular analyses of clinical trials on more commonly studied therapeutic areas such as chronic pain, nervous system diseases, and mental and behavioral disorders to generate more actionable information and insight for all stakeholders.

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