Cannabinoids for Medical Use A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Friday, August 21, 2015

A systematic review of the benefits and adverse events (AEs)
A total of 79 trials (6462 participants) were included; 4 were judged at low risk of bias. Most trials showed improvement in symptoms associated with cannabinoids but these associations did not reach statistical significance in all trials. Data about AEs were reported in 62 studies (127 reports).
There was an increased risk of short-term AEs with cannabinoids, including serious AEs. Common AEs included dizziness, dry mouth, nausea, fatigue, somnolence, euphoria, vomiting, disorientation, drowsiness, confusion, loss of balance, and hallucination.
Four (5%) trials were judged at low risk of bias, 55 (70%) were judged at high risk of bias, and 20 (25%) at unclear risk of bias (eAppendix 13 in Supplement 2) The major potential source of bias in the trials was incomplete outcome data. More than 50% of trials reported substantial withdrawals and did not adequately account for this in the analysis.
Common AEs included asthenia, balance problems, confusion, dizziness, disorientation, diarrhea, euphoria, drowsiness, dry mouth, fatigue, hallucination, nausea, somnolence, and vomiting.
There was no clear evidence for a difference in association (either beneficial or harmful) based on type of cannabinoids or mode of administration. Only 2 studies evaluated cannabis.  There was no evidence that the effects of cannabis differed from other cannabinoids.
An additional limitation of many included studies was their very small sample sizes.
Future studies should assess patient-relevant outcomes (including disease-specific end points, quality of life, and AEs) using standardized outcome measures at similar time points to ensure inclusion in future meta-analyses.
Future trials should adhere to the CONSORT (Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials) reporting standards197 and ensure that appropriate methods are used for randomization, allocation concealment, patient and outcome assessor blinding, handling of withdrawals, and avoiding selective outcome reporting.