Chronic pain and cancer are among the top five reasons people apply for Medical Cannabis cards in Utah. Interestingly, cancer patients often choose Medical Cannabis to help deal with the pain of the disease and its treatments. In such cases, a cancer patient’s Pharmacy Medical Provider (PMP) becomes an important member of the care team.
Cancer is a bit unusual in the sense that treating it often causes more discomfort than the disease itself. Chemotherapy and radiation treatments are not easy on the body. So it’s not unusual for cancer patients to experience significant pain along with other symptoms, including nausea.
Medical Cannabis can help alleviate both symptoms. However, a patient’s oncologist may not know the best way to utilize Medical Cannabis for each individual patient. That is where the PMP comes in.
The PMP is the most qualified medical provider to advise on Medical Cannabis use. As a licensed pharmacist, the PMP is trained in all things pharmacology. They are intimately familiar with the human endocannabinoid system. They understand how Medical Cannabis interacts with that system.
Oncologists, general practitioners, etc. are not trained in pharmacology. Their medical school training focused primarily on biology and physiology, along with some anatomy. So while an oncologist may discuss Medical Cannabis with a cancer patient, they may not fully understand how the drug should be used to help that particular patient.
The lack of knowledge among oncologists can leave cancer patients wondering where to turn for answers to their questions. According to a recently published study from Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, patients often rely on the advice of dispensary and pharmacy staff.
Their study interviewed twenty-six dispensary/pharmacy employees in thirteen states to try to understand their knowledge of Medical Cannabis as a therapeutic response to cancer pain and nausea. Unfortunately, the interviews revealed a lack of knowledge among these cannabis professionals.
In a previous study, the same Boston research team found that some 80% of oncologists were willing to discuss Medical Cannabis with patients. Yet only 30% felt they had the qualifications to actually recommend its use.
This takes us back to the PMP at the Medical Cannabis pharmacy. In Utah, every pharmacy is required to have a PMP on staff whenever the doors are open. PMPs are there to answer questions, offer advice, and even consult with patients to help them come up with a strategic care plan.
We consider the PMP one of the more critical members of the care team when it comes to Medical Cannabis therapeutics. The reason is simple: there are so many choices. It is easy for patients to walk into a pharmacy and immediately feel overwhelmed by the different products and delivery methods.
Things are made more complicated by the fact that people experience cancer pain and nausea in different ways. For some people, the pain is moderately annoying but tolerable. Other people find cancer pain nearly debilitating. It takes an experienced professional to help patients find the right therapeutic formula.
The oncologist is not adequately trained in pharmacology. That’s fine. No one expects it. On the other hand, the PMP is trained. That makes the PMP an important member of any cancer patient’s care team.
If you use Medical Cannabis, do you take advantage of your local pharmacy’s PMP? If not, you really should. Your PMP is a fountain of helpful knowledge and advice that could really make a difference in your treatment. Why not take advantage of everything your PMP knows?