A phase 2 study of dronabinol, a synthetic THC compound, shows improvement compared with placebo in some key measures of sleep apnea, according to Medscape.

“These findings support the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids in patients with obstructive sleep apnea,” the authors, led by Phyllis Zee, MD, the Benjamin and Virginia T. Boshes Professor of Neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and director of the Northwestern Medicine Sleep Disorders Center, Chicago, Illinois, write.

“In comparison to placebo, dronabinol was associated with lower AHI [apnea/hypopnea index], improved subjective sleepiness and greater overall treatment satisfaction,” they add. With no approved pharmacotherapies available for sleep apnea, current first-line treatment is a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device that applies continuous air pressure to keep the airways open during sleep. Though effective, the device can be cumbersome to wear, and long-term adherence is low.