A custom study was undertaken by Strainprint to understand polypharmacy behavior and attitudes among Strainprint app users (Medical cannabis patients, or “Patients”).
Survey results show that over 50% of total responses among Patients indicate that they use cannabis as well as another form of medicine to treat their symptoms. Among those who have included medical cannabis in their treatment, on average, 45% have replaced their prescription medication or OTCs with medical cannabis, 37% have reduced their prescriptions or OTCs and added medical cannabis to manage their symptoms, and 18% have continued to take their prescribed dose of medication and added medical cannabis to it.
Interestingly, there are different patterns of behavior when treating a physical symptom compared to a psychological one. It’s more common to switch from a molecular drug to medical cannabis for those treating psychological-based symptoms, while for physical symptoms, such as pain, it is more common to reduce their prescription or OTC and add medical cannabis to their treatment.
We were interested in the attitudes of respondents as well. The top reason why Patients were including medical cannabis in their treatment was because they believed it was better for their overall health compared to other treatments.There were also some patients who chose to treat some symptoms with medical cannabis but not others. The main reason for this was because they didn’t think about using cannabis for that indication. Interesting to note that the concern about mixing medications with cannabis was not even really on their radar. In fact, the high cost of medical cannabis is a more important factor than the potential interaction of cannabis and other medications.
The relationship with Patients’ healthcare provider (HCP) is examined. Almost two-thirds indicated that they had spoken to an HCP who supported using cannabis, while 22% had spoken to an unsupportive HCP; a further 15% did not report speaking to their HCP about using cannabis at all. Behaviours related to the HCP relationship also varied by age. Younger Patients (18-34 years old) are slightly less likely to speak to their HCP about using cannabis with their other treatment(s).
Polypharmacy is prevalent among medical cannabis users. And since information is not known about the interaction of cannabis with other drugs, this could be a potentially dangerous situation. There may be benefits when Patients reduce their pharmaceuticals that are addictive or have negative side effects, but they are still open to potential dangers if cannabis has a negative interaction with their other medication.
Patients should always consult with a physician, preferably one with medical cannabis experience, before starting any treatment.