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Is Marinol safe to give to the elderly?

My Mother is 78 and and has lost her appetite. She also cannot taste her food well and suffers chronic pain from arthritis and a spinal condition. She also has A-fib. She has lost a lot of weight. Does anyone know if the drug Marinol is safe to prescribe to the elderly? Her PCP had never heard of that drug.

Thanks!
Status: Open    Nov 02, 2015 - 07:26 AM

Senior Health & Nutrition

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Dec 02, 2015 - 08:12 AM

Marinol, known by the generic name dronabinol, is a drug that is FDA-approved to treat anorexia in people with HIV/AIDS, and to treat cancer patients with uncontrolled nausea and vomiting. It’s a derivative of THC, which is the active ingredient in cannabis, or marijuana. In clinical trials, it has not been shown to be effective in preventing weight loss in other populations. Use of marinol in the geriatric population has never been shown to produce weight gain, and the potential side effects probably make it less well-tolerated in older persons.

One thing to consider is a thorough medication review with her physician. Several medications, alone or in combination, can affect taste. And if she takes a lot of medications, which most 78-year-olds do, that alone can lead to loss of appetite. A wise pharmacist I knew used to say: ten pills is practically a meal in itself! Are there medications that don’t really provide a clear benefit, and if so can they be held? Finally, if her pain isn’t well controlled that will affect her appetite too. So safe, effective pain control is a big priority if she is to have the quality of life she needs and deserves.
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