USA: Development of a cannabinoid patch funded by cancer society
Albany College of Pharmacy researcher Audra Stinchcomb was
awarded a $361,000 three-year grant on 21 January by the
American Cancer Society to study whether cannabinoids can be
absorbed effectively through the skin.
The research could led to the development of a cannabinoid patch
for therapeutic use. It could ease the pain, nausea and vomiting
that chemotherapy patients can suffer, said Gail Tyner-Taylor of
the American Cancer Society of New York and New Jersey.
Stinchcomb is an assistant professor who specializes in
transdermal delivery or the study of transmitting drugs through the
skin. She said transdermal delivery can be tricky because the skin
is a good barrier. Patches are currently used as painkillers,
seasickness medication, to quit smoking (nicotine) and to treat
The researchers will use leftover human skin from "tummy tuck"
operations to see if and at what rate the active ingredients in
marijuana reach the bloodstream through the skin. "It could take a
decade before a marijuana patch would be available," said
Stinchcomb. "If the initial tests prove successful, animal tests and
later human tests would have to be completed."
The patch could give a continuous, steady dose over a period of
days. "Smoking can provide a high immediate dose and make
some patients high," said Stinchcomb. "However, a marijuana
patch could work better than a pill because people suffering from
the effects of chemotherapy have trouble keeping pills down."
The grant for the marijuana patch is the first the American
Cancer Society has awarded for marijuana research. "Some
people may not approve," said Don Distasio, of the American
Cancer Society, "but we are going to stick to our guns because
we see this as an issue of helping patients suffering from
(Sources: UPI of 21 January 2000, AP of 21 January 2000)