Oncology Health Care Providers See Benefit of Medical Marijuana, but Not Comfortable Prescribing

A group of health care providers, including 17 pharmacists, indicated in a recent survey that although they believe that medical marijuana likely provides benefits for patients with cancer, less than half were comfortable recommending its use.

A group of health care providers, including 17 pharmacists, indicated in a recent survey that although they believe that medical marijuana likely provides benefits for patients with cancer, less than half were comfortable recommending its use.

Ashley Elizabeth Glode, PharmD, and other researchers from the University of Colorado Cancer Center are presenting this week at the American Society for Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting 2019 data from a survey that assessed the beliefs of 172 oncology providers, including 49 specialized oncologists, 47 physicians, 53 registered nurses, 17 pharmacists, and 7 others about medical marijuana.

A majority of the study participants (73.3%) said that they believed medical marijuana can benefit patients with cancer and 81.5% indicated it should be available as a prescription. However, 60% said they had not recommend its use to any patients with cancer in the past 6 months and 54.3% said they were not comfortable doing so.

The researchers noted they had both regulatory and legal concerns, adding that “educational programs for health care providers (79.3%), more clinical data (74%), and endorsed clinical guidelines (67.5%) would increase their comfort level in recommending medical marijuana,” according to the study abstract.

“I think in some cases we’re missing out on providing a useful tool. Providers think it has benefit, but aren’t comfortable recommending it,” study first author Ashley E. Glode, PharmD, assistant professor at the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences said in an interview with University of Colorado Cancer Center blogger Garth Sundem.

Reference

Glode AE, Wright GC, Leong S, et al. Evaluation of Colorado oncology providers on the use of medical marijuana. Abstract 10511. Presented at: American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting. May 31 to June 4, 2019. Chicago, Illinois.