J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 83:1125-1132 doi:10.1136/jnnp-2012-302468
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Research paper

MUltiple Sclerosis and Extract of Cannabis: results of the MUSEC trial

Editor's ChoicePress Release
  1. on behalf of the MUSEC Research Group
  1. 1Clinical Neurology Research Group, Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Plymouth, Derriford, UK
  2. 2Department of Neurology, St George's Healthcare NHS Trust, London, UK
  3. 3Multiple Sclerosis Service, Ayrshire Central Hospital, Irvine, Ayrshire, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor J P Zajicek, Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Plymouth, Clinical Neurology Research Group, TSP, ITTC Building 1, Derriford, PL6 8BX, UK; john.zajicek{at}
  1. Contributors JPZ was the chief investigator, and led the design, conduct and interpretation of the study. JCH and AS conducted several analyses and reviewed the paper in preparation. DB and PGM were the leading investigators in the study and reviewed the manuscript prior to publication.

  • Received 9 February 2012
  • Revised 11 June 2012
  • Accepted 12 June 2012
  • Published Online First 12 July 2012


Objective Multiple sclerosis (MS) is associated with chronic symptoms, including muscle stiffness, spasms, pain and insomnia. Here we report the results of the Multiple Sclerosis and Extract of Cannabis (MUSEC) study that aimed to substantiate the patient based findings of previous studies.

Patients and methods Patients with stable MS at 22 UK centres were randomised to oral cannabis extract (CE) (N=144) or placebo (N=135), stratified by centre, walking ability and use of antispastic medication. This double blind, placebo controlled, phase III study had a screening period, a 2 week dose titration phase from 5 mg to a maximum of 25 mg of tetrahydrocannabinol daily and a 10 week maintenance phase. The primary outcome measure was a category rating scale (CRS) measuring patient reported change in muscle stiffness from baseline. Further CRSs assessed body pain, spasms and sleep quality. Three validated MS specific patient reported outcome measures assessed aspects of spasticity, physical and psychological impact, and walking ability.

Results The rate of relief from muscle stiffness after 12 weeks was almost twice as high with CE than with placebo (29.4% vs 15.7%; OR 2.26; 95% CI 1.24 to 4.13; p=0.004, one sided). Similar results were found after 4 weeks and 8 weeks, and also for all further CRSs. Results from the MS scales supported these findings.

Conclusion The study met its primary objective to demonstrate the superiority of CE over placebo in the treatment of muscle stiffness in MS. This was supported by results for secondary efficacy variables. Adverse events in participants treated with CE were consistent with the known side effects of cannabinoids. No new safety concerns were observed.

Trial registration number NCT00552604.


  • See appendix for list of investigators of the MUSEC Research Group.

  • Funding Funded by the Society for Clinical Research, Berlin, Germany, and Weleda AG, Arlesheim, Switzerland.

  • Competing interests JPZ has received consultancy fees from IKF and Bayer-Schering. He has received funding from the MRC and NIHR EME to conduct studies using cannabinoids. He is a named inventor in two patents regarding cannabinoid use in multiple sclerosis. JCH has received honoraria, consulting fees or, support for conferences from, or contributions towards research from Acorda, Biogen Idec, Merck Serono, Bayer Schering, Teva and MAPI industries.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was provided by Scotland A Research Ethics Committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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