Medical cannabis trial underway for Australian football players with chronic pain

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For Australian football player Ryan Gale, his previous years of athletic glory have been replaced by a harsh new reality.

Gales lives with chronic pain due to his injuries and required a hip replacement at just 33-years-old.

“I don’t think I ever went one week without pain somewhere,” Gale told 7NEWS.

Now Gale and other ex-athletes are hoping to benefit from a medical cannabis trial that is underway at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne and Emerald Clinics in Perth.

The trials are being conducted by Zelira Therapeutics, a medical cannabis company, and seek to demonstrate the efficacy of medical cannabis for patients who traditionally rely on opioids for chronic pain.

Seven patients took part in Phase 1 of the study, receiving one dose of medical cannabis on the first day, and two doses a day for an additional six days.

Each of the patients, who were previously taking at least 60-milligrams of morphine a day for chronic pain, showed “significant improvement” in pain interference scores, which measures how chronic pain impacts daily functioning.

“Not only did we find that our cannabinoid formulation is safe for them to use and did not result in any serious side-effects, but we have also seen promising positive effects on their physical and mental wellbeing,” said Dr. Richard Hopkins, the managing director of Zelira Therapeutics.

For Gale, medical cannabis, which was been federally legal in Australia since 2016, is helping him to better enjoy his post-playing days.

“It’s so much better than taking some of the other stuff,” he told 7NEWS.

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