Cannabis drug to treat NSW chemo patients

By Stefanie Menezes

NSW cancer patients suffering from the distressing effects of chemotherapy will soon be able to access a cannabis tablet as part of a clinical trial believed to be the largest of its kind in the world.

The cannabis-derived tablet will be made available to up to 330 patients who have not responded well to traditional anti-nausea and vomiting treatments while undergoing chemotherapy.

Premier Mike Baird said he hoped the state government trial would prove that medical cannabis could "fill the void" other treatments couldn't.

"I think all of us who know people who are in the battle for their lives (need) to have some form of relief," Mr Baird said.

"To give them strength, to give them energy, to stare down cancer and to take it on - well, that's what this is all about."

The most recent preliminary trial on whether cannabis could help with the effects of nausea caused by chemotherapy had been successful, Associate Professor Peter Grimison, who will lead the government's research, said on Friday.

"But this is actually going to be the largest, most definitive trial in this indication so we can definitely say to patients, `This will help you or it won't'," he said.

"We certainly hope it does".

Canadian pharmaceutical company Tilray will manufacture and supply the drug for the trial which is expected to start enrolling patients by mid-2016.

The trial is the third phase of the state government's research into medicinal cannabis which includes trials for the terminally ill and children with severe epilepsy.