The nation’s first hospice center plans to study how medical marijuana can help its dying patients.
Officials at the the Connecticut Hospice in Branford, established in 1974, said on Monday that they are hoping to improve pain management while reducing opioid use in palliative care.
They also want to decrease nausea and vomiting, while improving patients’ appetites and overall well-being.
The focus of this groundbreaking medical marijuana study will be to ease end of life patients’ pain and improve their quality of life, said Dr. Wen-Jen Hwu, professor of medical oncology at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, in a news conference announcing the research.
“Connecticut Hospice has the vision of trying to better fulfill their mission in palliative care and symptom control to improve the quality of life [of those] with limited time but it’s still very important,” Hwu said. “Everybody deserves to die with dignity.”
Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, attended the news conference, announcing the federally approved medical marijuana study, the first of its kind in New England.
“It’s about pain management at the end of life or during medical procedures,” Blumenthal said. “And that can transform the quality of life for people undergoing medical procedures no matter how serious or at what stage—and it can reduce the costs of health care.”
Sixty-six hospice patients, who are yet to be enrolled, will help determine the benefits and safety of using medical marijuana for pain management.
Most require opioids, and because their conditions worsen, they generally see an increase, not a decrease, when it comes to addictive painkillers.
Those participating will receive medical marijuana in a pill form.
Researchers will also be looking at how effective medical cannabis is as a painkiller for traumatic injuries such as broken ribs.
In related Connecticut medical marijuana news, last week Governor Malloy announced a state approved study to be undertaken at St. Francis Hospital in Hartford, the first hospital in Connecticut to conduct medical marijuana research as a painkiller for traumatic injuries.
A recent Connecticut state law enables research into the benefits of medical marijuana to be vetted by a new institutional review board and approved by the state’s Department of Consumer Protection commissioner.
Connecticut’s progressive medical marijuana program allows such research to take place.
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