Background: Almost 90% of patients with dementia suffer from some type of neurobehavioral symptom, and there are no approved medications to address these symptoms.
Objective: To evaluate the safety and efficacy of the medical cannabis oil "Avidekel" for the reduction of behavioral disturbances among patients with dementia.
Materials and methods: In this randomized, double-blind, single-cite, placebo-controlled trial conducted in Israel (ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT03328676), patients aged at least 60, with a diagnosis of major neurocognitive disorder and associated behavioral disturbances were randomized 2:1 to receive either "Avidekel," a broad-spectrum cannabis oil (30% cannabidiol and 1% tetrahydrocannabinol: 295 mg and 12.5 mg per ml, respectively; n = 40) or a placebo oil (n = 20) three times a day for 16 weeks. The primary outcome was a decrease, as compared to baseline, of four or more points on the Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory score by week 16.
Results: From 60 randomized patients [mean age, 79.4 years; 36 women (60.0%)], 52 (86.7%) completed the trial (all eight patients who discontinued treatment were from the investigational group). There was a statistically significant difference in the proportion of subjects who had a Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory score reduction of ≥ 4 points at week 16: 24/40 (60.0%) and 6/20 (30.0%) for investigational and control groups, respectively (χ2 = 4.80, P = 0.03). There was a statistically significant difference in the proportion of subjects who had a Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory score reduction of ≥ 8 points at week 16: 20/40 (50%) and 3/20 (15%), respectively (χ2 = 6.42, P = 0.011). The ANOVA repeated measures analysis demonstrated significantly more improvement in the investigational group compared to the control group at weeks 14 and 16 (F = 3.18, P = 0.02). Treatment was mostly safe, with no significant differences in the occurrence of adverse events between the two groups.
Conclusion: In this randomized controlled trial, 'Avidekel' oil significantly reduced agitation over placebo in patients suffering from behavioral disturbances related to dementia, with non-serious side-effects. Further research is required with a larger sample size.
Keywords: agitation; behavioral disturbances; cannabidiol; dementia; medical cannabis; neuropsychiatric symptoms; randomized controlled trial (RCT).
Copyright © 2022 Hermush, Ore, Stern, Mizrahi, Fried, Krivoshey, Staghon, Lederman and Bar-Lev Schleider.