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EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE UNTIL 4 PM ET, February 12, 2007

Marijuana Relieves HIV Nerve Pain

ST. PAUL, Minn – EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE UNTIL 4 P.M. ET, MONDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2007 Media Contacts: Angela Babb, ababb@aan.com, (651) 695-2789 Robin Stinnett, rstinnett@aan.com, (651) 695-2763 Marijuana Relieves HIV Nerve Pain ST. PAUL, Minn – Smoking marijuana effectively relieves chronic HIV-associated nerve pain, including aching, painful numbness, and burning, according to a study published in the February 13, 2007, issue of Neurology®, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology. For the study, 50 people with HIV-associated sensory neuropathy, the most common HIV nerve disorder, were admitted to a California hospital and randomly assigned to smoke either marijuana or identical placebo cigarettes three times a day for five days. The study found people who smoked marijuana reduced their daily nerve pain by 34 percent compared to 17 percent in the placebo group. “Smoking marijuana was well tolerated and effectively relieved chronic nerve pain from HIV-associated sensory neuropathy,” said study author Donald Abrams, MD, with San Francisco General Hospital in San Francisco, California. “Our findings show the amount of relief from smoking marijuana is comparable to relief provided by oral drugs currently used for chronic nerve pain.” Abrams says while some HIV patients with chronic nerve pain are able to take anticonvulsant drugs, such as lamotrigine and gabapentin, to ease pain, some patients don’t respond well to these drugs. He says that’s why there’s heightened interest in evaluating marijuana as a treatment for chronic nerve pain. The study also found the first marijuana cigarette reduced chronic pain by an average of 72 percent versus 15 percent with placebo. And more than half of the people who smoked marijuana reported more than a 30-percent reduction in pain compared to 24 percent in the placebo group. Participants in the study reported no serious side effects. Researchers say similar results were reported in two recent placebo-controlled studies of marijuana-related therapies for nerve pain associated with multiple sclerosis. The study was supported by the University of California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research and conducted at the National Institutes of Health-funded General Clinical Research Center at San Francisco General Hospital.

The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 20,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to improving patient care through education and research. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit www.aan.com.


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