INTRODUCTION: The approval of 9-δ-tetrahydocannabinol (THC)+cannabidiol (CBD) oromucosal spray (Sativex®) in Italy as an add-on medication for the management of moderate to severe spasticity in multiple sclerosis (MS) has provided a new opportunity for MS patients with drug-resistant spasticity. We aimed to investigate the improvement of MS spasticity-related symptoms in a large cohort of patients with moderate to severe spasticity in daily clinical practice.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: MS patients with drug-resistant spasticity were recruited from 30 Italian MS centers. All patients were eligible for THC:CBD treatment according to the approved label: ≥ 18 years of age, at least moderate spasticity (MS spasticity numerical rating scale [NRS] score ≥ 4) and not responding to the common antispastic drugs. Patients were evaluated at baseline (T0) and after 4 weeks of treatment (T1) with the spasticity NRS scale and were also asked about meaningful improvements in 6 key spasticity-related symptoms.
RESULTS: Out of 1615 enrolled patients, 1432 reached the end of the first month trial period (T1). Of these, 1010 patients (70.5%) reached a ≥ 20% NRS score reduction compared with baseline (initial responders; IR). We found that 627 (43.8% of 1432) patients showed an improvement in at least one spasticity-related symptom (SRSr group), 543 (86.6%) of them belonging to the IR group and 84 (13.4%) to the spasticity NRS non-responders group.
CONCLUSION: Our study confirmed that the therapeutic benefit of cannabinoids may extend beyond spasticity, improving spasticity-related symptoms even in non-NRS responder patients.