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Dronabinol oral solution in the management of anorexia and weight loss in AIDS and cancer

Authors Badowski ME, Yanful PK

Received 18 September 2017

Accepted for publication 3 March 2018

Published 6 April 2018 Volume 2018:14 Pages 643—651

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/TCRM.S126849

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Amy Norman

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Garry Walsh


Melissa E Badowski, Paa Kwesi Yanful

Section of Infectious Diseases Pharmacotherapy, Department of Pharmacy Practice, University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Pharmacy, Chicago, IL, USA

Abstract: The true incidence of anorexia secondary to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and cancer is not well classified owing to the fact that there is a lack of standardized definitions and recent clinical data in these settings. Dronabinol, or Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, is a synthetic molecule that closely mimics the action of Cannabis sativa L., a naturally occurring compound activated in the central nervous system by cannabinoid receptors. Dronabinol exerts its effects by directly acting on the vomiting and appetite control centers in the brain, which in turn increases appetite and prevents vomiting. In the USA, dronabinol is currently available in two dosage formulations – oral capsule and oral solution. While the oral capsule was initially approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 1985, the recent approval of the oral solution in 2016 presents an “easy-to-swallow” alternative for patients using or intending to use dronabinol. Dronabinol is indicated in adult patients with HIV/AIDS for the treatment of anorexia and weight loss. However, there is no approved indication in the setting of cancer-related anorexia and weight loss. This review aims at presenting available data on the use of oral dronabinol in the management of anorexia and weight loss in HIV/AIDS and cancer, as well as characterizing and highlighting the pharmacotherapeutic considerations of the newest formulation of dronabinol.

Keywords: HIV/AIDS, cancer, anorexia, weight loss, cachexia, dronabinol

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