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New App Provides Drug-Drug Interaction Info for Cannabis Users

Researchers at Penn State College of Medicine have developed a new web-based application to aid pharmacists and other health care providers learn about potential drug-drug interactions following the use of cannabis products and other medications. The app is a free web-based resource known as CANNabinoid Drug Interaction Review (CANN-DIR™) that compares the effects of products containing delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), or both THC and CBD, against a database of common over-the-counter and prescription medications. The team launched the first version of the app on March 22.

According to a press release from the college, “Users select the cannabinoid product a patient is taking and then choose other medications they are using. CANN-DIR™ then provides information about how the THC and/or CBD product could potentially affect the metabolism, or breakdown, of the other selected medications.”

The project leader was Kent Vrana, Elliot S. Vesell Professor and Chair of the Department of Pharmacology. Vrana felt compelled to help health care professionals learn how concomitant cannabis use can affect the pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics of other medications to ensure patient safety. “Some drugs can affect the way others are broken down by the body, which can be problematic in the case of medications with a narrow therapeutic index,” Vrana said. “People may not realize that THC and CBD products have the ability to change the way other drugs are metabolized, and it’s an important conversation for patients and health care providers to have with each other. CANN-DIR™ can help facilitate those conversations and provide useful information for health care providers when prescribing medications to their patients.”

Vrana’s research partners were Paul Kocis, a clinical pharmacist at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, and a team of computer scientists based at Penn State Harrisburg: Samuel Wadrose, Aqib Ahmed and Rohan Gajjar. The three worked on the app as part of their capstone project last spring with mentoring from their academic advisor, Hyuntae Na, assistant professor in the School of Science, Engineering and Technology.

Another group of computer science students are currently working on a second version of the app. They hope to make it more user friendly for patients and their caregivers.

To read the full release, click here.

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