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Use of the Cannabinoid Nabilone for the Promotion of Sleep in Chronic, Non-Malignant Pain Patients

The recruitment status of this study is unknown. The completion date has passed and the status has not been verified in more than two years.
Verified November 2005 by University Health Network, Toronto.
Recruitment status was:  Recruiting
Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc.
Information provided by:
University Health Network, Toronto Identifier:
First received: October 4, 2006
Last updated: NA
Last verified: November 2005
History: No changes posted
Sleep disturbance is perhaps one of the most prevalent complaints of patients with long-standing painful conditions. Nabilone is a medication that is approved by Health Canada as an anti-emetic (prevent vomiting) for patients undergoing chemotherapy. Nabilone, due to its sleep promoting properties, is sometimes prescribed by physicians to pain patients to help improve their sleep. However, there is no direct research evidence to either support or refute this practice. This study will investigate if nabilone is effective in improving sleep in insomnia and pain patients.

Condition Intervention Phase
Pain Insomnia Drug: Nabilone Phase 2

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Crossover Assignment
Masking: Double
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: Use of the Cannabinoid Nabilone for the Promotion of Sleep in Chronic, Non-Malignant Pain Patients: A Placebo-Controlled, Randomized, Crossover Insomnia Pilot Study

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by University Health Network, Toronto:

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • The primary analysis variable will be the change in the mean of the sleep efficiency as measured by overnight polysomnography.

Secondary Outcome Measures:
  • • The key secondary efficacy variable will be the change in the total sleep time with nabilone treatment as compared to placebo

Estimated Enrollment: 16
Study Start Date: December 2005
Detailed Description:


The current evidence suggests a sleep promoting effect of THC. Although, there is some support from pre-clinical and small sample size human studies suggesting a direct sleep enhancing effect, it remains unclear from the larger clinical trials, whether improved sleep is an epiphenomena secondary to improvements in the primary outcome measures ( i.e., pain, nausea or spasticity). There are no studies evaluating the sleep promoting effects of THC or analogues in patients with primary insomnia or objectively evaluating sleep at baseline and following treatment with THC or analogues in patients suffering from chronic pain disorder and insomnia. Cannabinoids have the potential of simultaneously improving sleep and lessening chronic, non-malignant pain, thereby interrupting the vicious cycle of pain and sleep disturbance. An investigation of the efficacy of cannabinoids in treating insomnia in chronic, non-malignant pain patients is therefore warranted.

Research Question:

To evaluate if nabilone (Cesamet) is effective in improving sleep in patients with insomnia and chronic, non-malignant pain


Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years to 65 Years   (Adult)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No

Inclusion Criteria

  • History of insomnia and chronic, non-malignant pain.
  • Patient not currently being prescribed opiates for pain management
  • Subject has no known clinically significant abnormal vital signs or other significant clinical findings at screening.

Exclusion criteria

  • Patients with a history of sensitivity of cannabinoids.
  • Patients currently taking hypnotics, psychotomimetic substances, CNS depressants or tricyclic antidepressants that may increase the CNS-depressant effects of nabilone.
  • Patients with active cardiac disease or respiratory disorders.
  • Patients with a history of psychotic reactions, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or any serious untreated mental disorder.
  • Presence of untreated sleep disorder (other than insomnia) as detected using the screening overnight PSG.
  • Alcohol or substance abuse (according to DSM-IV) during the last 6 months prior to baseline.
  • Patients with liver disease that may interfere with the clearance of nabilone.
  • Patients who are nursing, pregnant or likely to become pregnant throughout the course of the study. During the study, female patients will be asked to use an effective method of birth control.
  Contacts and Locations
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below. For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT00384410

Contact: Sharon A. Chung, PhD 416-603-5275

Canada, Ontario
University Health Network Recruiting
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5T 2S8
Contact: Sharon A. Chung, PhD    416-603-5275   
Principal Investigator: Colin M. Shapiro, MBBCh, PhD         
Sub-Investigator: Sharon A. Chung, PhD         
Sponsors and Collaborators
University Health Network, Toronto
Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc.
Principal Investigator: Colin M. Shapiro, MBBCh, PhD University Health Network, Toronto
  More Information Identifier: NCT00384410     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: NAB-20051
Study First Received: October 4, 2006
Last Updated: October 4, 2006

Keywords provided by University Health Network, Toronto:

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders
Sleep Disorders, Intrinsic
Sleep Wake Disorders
Nervous System Diseases
Mental Disorders
Autonomic Agents
Peripheral Nervous System Agents
Physiological Effects of Drugs
Gastrointestinal Agents
Anti-Anxiety Agents
Tranquilizing Agents
Central Nervous System Depressants
Psychotropic Drugs
Analgesics, Non-Narcotic
Sensory System Agents
Cannabinoid Receptor Agonists
Cannabinoid Receptor Modulators
Neurotransmitter Agents
Molecular Mechanisms of Pharmacological Action
Hormones, Hormone Substitutes, and Hormone Antagonists processed this record on September 21, 2017