Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
. 2018 Apr 6;14:643-651.
doi: 10.2147/TCRM.S126849. eCollection 2018.

Dronabinol Oral Solution in the Management of Anorexia and Weight Loss in AIDS and Cancer

Free PMC article

Dronabinol Oral Solution in the Management of Anorexia and Weight Loss in AIDS and Cancer

Melissa E Badowski et al. Ther Clin Risk Manag. .
Free PMC article


The true incidence of anorexia secondary to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and cancer is not well classified owing to the fact that there is a lack of standardized definitions and recent clinical data in these settings. Dronabinol, or Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, is a synthetic molecule that closely mimics the action of Cannabis sativa L., a naturally occurring compound activated in the central nervous system by cannabinoid receptors. Dronabinol exerts its effects by directly acting on the vomiting and appetite control centers in the brain, which in turn increases appetite and prevents vomiting. In the USA, dronabinol is currently available in two dosage formulations - oral capsule and oral solution. While the oral capsule was initially approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 1985, the recent approval of the oral solution in 2016 presents an "easy-to-swallow" alternative for patients using or intending to use dronabinol. Dronabinol is indicated in adult patients with HIV/AIDS for the treatment of anorexia and weight loss. However, there is no approved indication in the setting of cancer-related anorexia and weight loss. This review aims at presenting available data on the use of oral dronabinol in the management of anorexia and weight loss in HIV/AIDS and cancer, as well as characterizing and highlighting the pharmacotherapeutic considerations of the newest formulation of dronabinol.

Keywords: HIV/AIDS; anorexia; cachexia; cancer; dronabinol; weight loss.

Conflict of interest statement

Disclosure The authors report no conflicts of interest in this work.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 6 articles

See all "Cited by" articles


    1. Badowski ME, Perez SE. Clinical utility of dronabinol in the treatment of weight loss associated with HIV and AIDS. HIV AIDS. 2016;8:37–45. - PMC - PubMed
    1. Badowski M, Pandit NS. Pharmacologic management of human immunodeficiency virus wasting syndrome. Pharmacotherapy. 2014;34(8):868–881. - PubMed
    1. Mangili A, Murman DH, Zampini AM, Wanke CA. Nutrition and HIV infection: review of weight loss and wasting in the era of highly active antiretroviral therapy from the nutrition for health living cohort. Clin Infect Dis. 2006;42(6):836–842. - PubMed
    1. National Cancer Institute Nutrition in Cancer Care (PDQ®)–Health Professional Version. [Accessed August 30, 2017]. Available from:
    1. Tong H, Isenring E, Yates P. The prevalence of nutrition impact symptoms and their relationship to quality of life and clinical outcomes in medical oncology patients. Support Care Cancer. 2009;17(1):83–90. - PubMed

LinkOut - more resources