Nabilone. A preliminary review of its pharmacological properties and therapeutic use.

PMID 2863127


Nabilone is a new orally active cannabinoid for the treatment of severe gastrointestinal toxicity associated with cancer chemotherapy. The pharmacological profile of nabilone suggests that it acts primarily by preventing emesis controlled by the medulla oblongata, although its secondary mild anxiolytic activity may contribute to the overall efficacy. Nabilone 2mg twice daily starting 12 hours prior to, and continued for the duration of, chemotherapy produces significant reduction in the severity and duration of nausea and the frequency of vomiting in about 50 to 70% of patients with severe symptoms refractory to conventional therapy. Nabilone has proven to be more effective in controlling symptoms and preferred by more patients than prochlorperazine 10mg 2 to 4 times daily in a limited number of studies, despite a higher incidence of side effects. Comparative trials against other new antiemetic agents, such as high dose metoclopramide, and use of nabilone in combination with other antiemetics remain to be undertaken. The incidence of side effects is high with nabilone; drowsiness, dizziness and/or vertigo occur in 60 to 70% of patients, but rarely lead to drug withdrawal, although more troublesome effects, such as postural hypotension, ataxia, vision disturbance and toxic psychoses, may cause discontinuation of therapy. Thus, nabilone offers an effective alternative to the treatment options available in a difficult therapeutic area - those patients with severe gastrointestinal side effects from cancer chemotherapy who are refractory to conventional therapy.

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Nabilone, solid, ≥98% (HPLC)