Monthly media digest: March/April 2021

A digest of college news coverage for March/April 2021

FPM dean comments on CANBACK study which found that cannabidiol (CBD) is not effective for lower back pain

New Australian research released on 19 April and published in the Medical Journal of Australia has found that CBD is no better than placebo as a treatment for relieving acute low back pain. 

The CANBACK trial led by emergency physicians at Melbourne's Austin Hospital randomised 100 emergency department patients with acute non-traumatic low back pain to either 400 mg oral CBD or placebo in addition to usual care.

Faculty dean Associate Professor Mick Vagg  was interviewed by for ABC Radio's The World Today program and MJA Insight saying it was “a small step towards addressing the critical lack of evidence as to how CBD in particular might be worth using”.

“The study design allows adequately for demonstration of benefit if it was to be found. In particular, it is impressive that the funding and conduct of the study was done in a health care setting, not by industry,” he said.

FPM urges doctors not to prescribe medicinal cannabis

The Faculty of Pain Medicine says there needs to be more clinical evidence about the efficacy of medicinal cannabis before use as a treatment for chronic, non-cancer pain.

The faculty’s latest advice to healthcare professionals on medicinal cannabis and pain management has been added to its Choosing Wisely list of five recommendations on tests, treatments and procedures that should be questioned by health professionals and consumers because of their low value. Choosing Wisely recommendations are not prescriptive, but are intended as guidance to start a conversation between doctors and patients about what is appropriate and necessary.

The sixth recommendation released on 23 March for Australian doctors and reported in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age  says:  Do not prescribe currently available cannabinoid products to treat chronic non-cancer pain unless part of a registered clinical trial.

You can read FPM Dean Associate Professor Mick Vagg's article in The Conversation  here.

The skilful touch of art and anaesthesia 

Retired Melbourne anaesthetist Dr Bob Smith is now using his painting skills to bring life to the operating theatre, all for a good cause for Western Health. Dr Smith was featured in a Nine News Melbourne TV report on 21 March about the paintings he creates of some of his former colleagues in the operating theatre. The paintings will be displayed in an exhibition to benefit the Western Health Foundation. 

FANZCA Dr Nicole Sheridan, Deputy Director, Department of Anaesthesia, Pain and Perioperative Medicine at Western Health was also interviewed for the report which has had more than 1200 views on the Nine News twitter post.

FANZCA Dr Christine Ball features in BBC coverage of the history behind the invention of the syringe 

Dr Ball, honorary curator of the Geoffrey Kaye Museum of Anaesthetic History in Melbourne, was interviewed by BBC Scotland journalist Magnus Bennett for an online article about the history of the syringe "The invention that made mass vaccinations possible."

In experiments with dogs in 1656, Britain's Sir Christopher Wren - better known as an architect - administered drugs using an animal bladder attached to a hollow goose quill.

"He injected opium, alcohol and crocus metallodrug (a 17th Century emetic) into different dogs," Dr Ball explained.

"As we would expect, the first went to sleep, the second became very drunk and the third became very dead."


Last updated 16:10 19.04.2021