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Papers of the Week

Papers: 13 May 2023 - 19 May 2023

Clinical, Psychology

Human Studies, Neurobiology, Pharmacology/Drug Development

Arthritis, Inflammation/Inflammatory, Psychological/Comorbidities

2023 May 18



Within-subject, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled evaluation of combining the cannabinoid dronabinol and the opioid hydromorphone in adults with chronic pain.


Campbell CM, Mun CJ, Hamilton KR, Bergeria CL, Huhn AS, Speed TJ, Vandrey R, Dunn KE


The potential synergistic effects of combining cannabinoids and opioids for analgesia has received considerable attention. No studies to date have evaluated this combination in patients with chronic pain. The present study aimed to evaluate the combined analgesic and drug effects of oral opioid (hydromorphone) and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (dronabinol), as well as their effects on physical and cognitive functioning, and human abuse potential (HAP) outcomes among individuals with knee osteoarthritis (KOA). This was a within-subject, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study. Participants (N = 37; 65% women; mean age = 62) diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis of ≥3/10 average pain intensity were included. Participants received (1) placebo-placebo, (2) hydromorphone (4 mg)-placebo; (3) dronabinol (10 mg)-placebo, and (4) hydromorphone (4 mg)-dronabinol (10 mg). Clinical and experimentally-induced pain, physical and cognitive function, subjective drug effects, HAP, adverse events, and pharmacokinetics were evaluated. No significant analgesic effects were observed for clinical pain severity or physical functioning across all drug conditions. Little enhancement of hydromorphone analgesia by dronabinol was observed on evoked pain indices. While subjective drug effects and some HAP ratings were increased in the combined drug condition, these were not significantly increased over the dronabinol alone condition. No serious adverse events were reported; hydromorphone produced more mild adverse events than placebo, but hydromorphone + dronabinol produced more moderate adverse events than both placebo and hydromorphone alone. Only hydromorphone impaired cognitive performance. Consistent with laboratory studies on healthy adults, the present study shows minimal benefit of combining dronabinol (10 mg) and hydromorphone (4 mg) for analgesia and improving physical functioning in adults with KOA.