Medicinal cannabis

My son thrives on cannabis oil - but the draft NICE guidelines entrench the difficulties of getting Eddie the prescription he needs

Viewpoint by Ilmarie Braun

Last week saw both the publication of the draft NICE guidelines and the findings of the NHS Review commissioned by the Heath Secretary Matt Hancock into the barriers families like ours are facing in accessing an NHS prescription for medicinal cannabis products.

Both the guidance and the review shattered the tiny hope I had been clinging on to that either of these documents would make our fight to get my son Eddie a prescription easier. Eddie has severe epilepsy and cerebral palsy. Cannabis oils have drastically reduced Eddie’s seizures and given him much improved quality of life.

We must seriously consider decriminalisation for patients unable to access cannabis-based medicines on the NHS

We must seriously consider decriminalisation for patients unable to access cannabis-based medicines on the NHS

David King, Senior Researcher

The draft NICE guidelines for the use of Cannabis-based medicinal products (CBMPs), which were published last week, contained no recommendations for the use of CBMPs except nabilone as an add-on treatment for adults suffering from intractable nausea and vomiting. Thus, for now, prescriptions of CBMPs on the NHS are likely to remain effectively unavailable. That these guidelines were highly restrictive and risk-averse came as no surprise to most, but nonetheless a huge disappointment for many.

Barriers for British patient access to medicinal cannabis outlined by Select Committee

Barriers for British patient access to medicinal cannabis outlined by Select Committee

Dave King, Senior Researcher

Despite the rescheduling of cannabis-based medicinal products (CBMPs) in November 2018, which theoretically allowed British patients access to such medications, only very limited numbers of patients have been able to benefit. While many patients and families believe that CBMPs are now available, this is simply not the case and it is worrying that this has has soured patient-clinician relationships.

Last week, Parliament’s Health and Social Care Committee (HSSC) published Drugs policy: medicinal cannabis, summarizing how the rescheduling of cannabis-based medicinal products has affected clinical practice and providing an overview of current obstacles in accessing CBMPs through the UK health system. Here we discuss those barriers.