Cannabis Due to be Available on Prescription
Are Cannabis Derived Medicinal Products Soon To Be Available On Prescription In The UK?
We are taking a look at developments within the UK relating to the use of cannabis derived medicinal products, as the latest update from the government is a substantial one.
Earlier this year there were a number of high profile cases whereby young and very sick children were using cannabis derived products to alleviate their symptoms but were then denied access to them. In the cases of Alfie Dingley and Billy Caldwell it was cannabis oil that was being withheld. In both these cases however, after much campaigning and consultation, the decision was changed and the cannabis oil products were returned to them. This pushed Home Secretary Sajid Javid to commission part 2 of the review into cannabis-related medicinal products back in early July. This in turn came after Professor Dame Sally Davies, the current Chief Medical Officer and Chief Medical Advisor for the UK government, released her report in which she examined the existing research in to the therapeutic and medicinal benefits of cannabis related medicinal products.
Professor Dame Sally Davies said:
There is clear evidence from highly respected and trusted research institutions that some cannabis based medicinal products have therapeutic benefits for some medical conditions.
As Schedule 1 drugs by definition have little or no therapeutic potential, it is therefore now clear that from a scientific point of view keeping cannabis-based medicinal products in Schedule 1 is very difficult to defend.
Let me be emphatic - this report does not look at recreational cannabis use and does not endorse or condone recreational use. There is well-established evidence on the potential harm of recreational cannabis use. This is about helping patients, in exceptional circumstances, get access to treatment which could work.
On the 19th July the Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs or ACMD for short wrote a letter to the Home Secretary in which Chair of the ACMD, Dr Owen Bowden-Jones opened by stating:
The ACMD agrees with the Chief Medical Officer for England (CMO) that there is now evidence of medicinal benefit for some Cannabis-derived products in certain medical conditions for some patients.
Chair of the ACMD, Dr Owen Bowden-Jones, said:
We have completed the first part of our review for rapid advice into the scheduling of cannabis-derived medicinal products.
We recommend that cannabis-derived medicinal products of the appropriate standard be moved out of Schedule 1 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001. This means that medical practitioners would be able to prescribe such medications to patients with certain medical conditions.
At present, cannabis-derived products can vary greatly in their composition, effectiveness and level of impurity. It is important that clinicians, patients and their families are confident that any prescribed medication are both safe and effective. The ACMD recommends that an appropriate definition be agreed by DHSC and MHRA promptly. Only products meeting this standard and definition should be given medicinal status.
Though we agree with the Chief Medical Officer for England that there is now evidence of therapeutic benefit for some cannabis-derived products in some medical conditions, we are also recommending that urgent clinical trials be carried out to better improve our understanding of these products.
What this means for patients in the UK
This is HUGE news for UK sufferers, and the families of those suffering some of the most horrific conditions that conventional treatments cannot alleviate.
Medical cannabis has reclassified to schedule 2 which means they will be able to be subscribed to patients by their GP.
The UK still has a long way to go before we start catching up the likes of Holland and Canada when it comes to using cannabis derived products for medicinal purposes, but at least it is progress.
We will keep our eye on the developing story so check back for future updates.
To read more about the situation surrounding the medical use of cannabis related products in the UK use the following links: