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University of Sydney launches study into the quality-of-life of medical cannabis patients

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Researchers from the University of Sydney will be studying the quality of life of Australia’s medical cannabis patients by recruiting more than 2,000 patients across the country.

The Quality of Life Evaluation Study or ‘The QUEST Initiative’ will track outcomes of Australians taking medical cannabis through the government’s Special Access Scheme (SAS). The study is aiming to compare the outcomes of patients with different conditions such as anxiety, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, insomnia, neuropathic pain, cancer pain, and chronic pain.

Researchers expect to recruit over 2,100 patients to the study, with the potential for the study to be extended internationally. The QUEST Initiative has already started and will be open until March 2022. 

The study will measure people’s quality-of-life through “Patient-Reported Outcomes” or ‘PRO’s’. This includes patient mobility, pain, discomfort, depression, anxiety, functionality, medication requirements, and ongoing healthcare costs.

As cannabis medicines are not currently covered by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, medical cannabis costs patients an estimated average of $384 monthly

According to lead researcher Associate Professor Claudia Rutherford, the QUEST Initiative is “unique in its approach”, as it will analyse the overall economic health and quality-of-life of a person, rather than their symptoms. Associate Professor Rutherford is the deputy director of the Sydney Quality of Life Office and a researcher in the universities Faculty of Medicine and Health.

The QUEST initiative may be able to provide future critical insights into the health of a patient over time and help us better understand whether the introduction of medicinal cannabis delivers cost-effective improvements.

The research is being funded by medical cannabis company Little Green Pharma and is endorsed by Arthritis Australia, Chronic Pain Australia, Epilepsy Action Australia, Health Insurance Fund of Australia (HIF), and MS Research Australia. 

The study also supported by Federal Health Minister for Health the Hon. Greg Hunt, who believes the QUEST Initiative will make an “important clinical contribution.” The QUEST Initiative is the first comprehensive quality-of-life study of Australians taking medical cannabis. 

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