THC traces found in CBD oil, other discoveries presented by graduating pharmacy students

Brian Blevins sets up the lab to analyze CBD oil for his ImPaCT project. 

The School of Pharmacy’s graduating seniors usually present their senior projects to the general public this time of year. COVID-19 forced them to present online.

Every graduating pharmacy major is required to present their Improving Patient Care for Tomorrow projects.

Senior pharmacy major Brian Blevins, from Belleville, Illinois, said while he liked being able to have more detailed notes in front of him during his online presentation, it wasn’t his preferred mode.

“I would have preferred to do it in person because you can interact with more people whereas online you’re only interacting with whoever’s in the block with you, which, in my case, was 22,” Blevins said. “But when you’re doing poster day on campus there could be hundreds of people that might come by and look at your poster and you might give your little presentation to.”

Senior pharmacy major Vincent Chau, from Peoria, Illinois, said the largest difference in presenting the projects online instead of in person is the lack of participation from people seeing the posters and stopping by.

“I would say the online version is a little bit more structured because we had a group that we were going to be in ahead of time, we knew exactly when we were going to present, and we only had to present once and then answer questions,” Chau said. “In person we are just set up next to our poster and [there are] bystanders that walk by and ask us questions and we have to give our spiel about our project multiple times.”

For his ImPaCT project, Blevins analyzed CBD oil and determined how much THC was in commercially available CBD oil products. Many companies claim to have products that are THC free or contain less than 0.3 percent THC by weight.

He said the results of his study showed that most of the products came close to the THC content they claimed to have, although some of the others showed large discrepancies in what they claimed versus what they actually had.

Blevins said one example was a product that supposedly had 16 milligrams per serving, but actually had 3 to 4 milligrams. He said every product he tested had at least some trace of THC.

“The reason why this is significant is because there was enough that, if someone were to take a serving and then they had to go do a drug test within the next 72 hours, then it’s possible they could fail the drug test,” Blevins said.

Senior pharmacy major Alanna Pomes, from Champaign–Urbana, Illinois, was another student who presented her project.

Pomes said she read several articles to examine whether publication biases lead to pharmaceutical companies being framed in a more posistive light than they would otherwise be viewed.

“I thought this was important because, as pharmacists, if we want to recommend a drug to a provider, to a patient, or make any kind of recommendations we need to have good data to begin with,” Pomes said.

Pomes found something different than she expected.

“An interesting thing that I noticed was that studies that had received industry funding actually tended to be more negative than the rest,” Pomes said. It’s at about a cumulative rate of about 30 percent, whereas studies that received no funding at all were about 52 percent. That was a difference that was seen between both the randomized control trials and the observational studies.”

In his project, Chau compared the medical outcomes of two different treatments for heart failure. He used health records to aid in his research.

“What we first did was run a report of patients that had received an ACE inhibitor, which is a class of drugs, compared to Entresto, which is a name brand medication,” Chau said. “We ran a report to get a list of patients that had received the ACE inhibitor in the hospital and a list of patients who received Entresto in the hospital, and then from that I looked into each chart for each patient to collect my data.”

Chau said he wanted to tweak some large clinical studies he had seen testing the same thing. He said unlike the large trials, he did not find any difference between the two drugs, although he said this could be due to him having a much smaller sample size to the clinical trial.

For more information, go to the SIUE School of Pharmacy website.

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