Clinical Evidence of Magistral Preparations Based on Medicinal Cannabis
Sara Arias, Marta Leon, Diego Jaimes and Rosa-Helena Bustos
Pharmaceuticals, 2021, 14, 78, 1-13.
Cannabis has been widely used as a medicinal plant for millennia; however, studies related to its main components were first conducted in 1960. Subsequently, laboratories have produced new components and structures related to its active biological properties. Countries that have approved the medicinal use of cannabis impose regulations that govern its clinical and scientific use. One means of administering medicinal cannabis is via a magistral preparation that must have a medical prescription and be prepared in an establishment that meets quality standards to ensure the quantities of its main components, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Furthermore, suppliers must have a clear indication of its use in the patient before prescription. This review shows the published evidence regarding the clinical use of medicinal cannabis magistral preparations in the management of post chemotherapy nausea and vomiting, neuropathic pain in multiple sclerosis, and anorexia and cachexia in patients with HIV.
Keywords : magistral preparation; medicinal cannabis; anorexia; cachexia in HIV; post-chemotherapy nausea and vomiting; neuropathic pain in multiple sclerosis; pharmacology
The history of cannabis dates back to the year 4000 BC, with its first remains found in China. The first records of the use of cannabis are also found in a Chinese treaty, according to which, marijuana tea was used for the treatment of gout, rheumatism, malaria, and memory loss. However, the treaty warns of the main adverse effects, such as hallucinations and a feeling of “light body” . Subsequently, its medicinal use spread through Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, where it was used for religious, social, and cultural purposes. These included the manufacture of ropes and health treatments, for which it showed benefits for use in certain refractory diseases as an alternative to conventional management .
This situation changed with the stigmatization of use at the end of the 19th century, when the epidemic of opioid abuse arose and legislation was introduced that regulated chemical substances related to psychoactive components, mainly as a control measure to address addiction. Therefore, in 1937, the Marijuana Tax Law was approved in the US, which made the non-medicinal use of cannabis illegal. In 1939, the Colombian government prohibited the cultivation of the plant and ordered the destruction of existing plantations .
Documents and evidence related to the use of medicinal cannabis in a clinical context are scarce. According to a review of the research, the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine concludes that there is conclusive or substantial evidence of the effect of cannabis on chronic pain, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, multiple sclerosis-associated spasticities, and refractory epilepsy. Moderate or low evidence indicates an effect on sleep disturbances (due to obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, and multiple sclerosis) [3–5], Hungtington’s disease, additions, glaucoma, Parkinson’s disease, Tourette syndrome, anxiety, cancer, Lennox–Gastaut
syndrome, or Dravet syndrome [6–9].
One means of administering medical cannabis is via compounding formulas. According to the technical definitions of the US Pharmacopoeia, chapter 795 , and the European Pharmacopoeia monograph on “pharmaceutical preparations” , pharmaceutical preparations are classified as non-sterile preparations and defined as the preparation, mixture, assembly, alteration, packaging, and labelling of a drug, combined with formulated excipients and drug delivery device or devices, according to a medical prescription and for an individual patient. These must be preparations made by a pharmaceutical establishment created specifically to comply with a specific prescription for a patient with an indication.
Furthermore, they must also have a prescription endorsed by a health professional and be prepared in facilities with good practice regulations.
In the context of medicinal cannabis in Colombia, under the regulations of Decree 613 of 2017 , these magistral preparations relate to the pharmaceutical form via which the drug can be dispensed to facilitate its administration, dosage, and release. These preparations must comply with all regulations applicable to pharmaceutical products, and the concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) must be specified to determine the dosage [13,14]. Cannabis derivatives that are required as raw material for magistral preparations can only be provided by natural or legal persons that have a national license to manufacture cannabis derivatives [12,14–19].
Dispensing of these magistral preparations must include : common and scientific name of the plant material (genus, species, variety, and author); specification of the part of the plant used; in the case of extracts and tinctures, the solvent used; the ratio between the weight of the material of the medicinal plant and the volume of the solvent; the content of active substances; the pharmaceutical form and route of administration; concentration of the final content of THC and CBD to determine the dosage; special instructions for storage, preparation, and administration; manufacture and expiration dates; and batch
The regulations in Colombia regarding the magistral formulation relate to the following: (i) The norms for the control, monitoring, and surveillance of the import, export, processing, synthesis, manufacture, distribution, dispensing, purchase, sale, destruction, and use of substances subjected to control, medicines, or any other product other than cannabis, its resin, extracts, and tinctures on the yellow list of narcotic drugs, and THC on the green list of psychotropic substances . (ii) Regulation of the registration and licensing regime, control quality, and health surveillance regime for drugs, cosmetics,
and pharmaceutical preparations based on natural resources that have traditionally been used empirically for therapeutic purposes . (iii) A regulatory framework that allows safe and informed access to medical and scientific use of cannabis and its derivatives in Colombia . (iv) Safe and informed access to the medical and scientific use of cannabis.
Additionally, it is the first decree that discusses the magistral preparations and commercialization of products derived from cannabis . (v) Licenses for the production and manufacture of cannabis derivatives . Resolution 2892 of 2017 regulates the licenses for the production and manufacture of cannabis derivatives . (vi) Updating of narcotic, psychotropic, and precursor drugs. Article 5 notes the classification of pharmaceutical products derived from cannabis, in which those of chemical synthesis and magistral preparations with an amount equal to or greater than 2 mg of THC are classified as special control drugs, whereas those with a lesser amount are considered non-audited products .
To understand the importance of the key characteristics of medical cannabis, its pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics are described in Table 1.