Cannabis-based medicinal products available by special prescription by 1 November

Friday 12 October 2018

Yesterday the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid MP, announced cannabis-based medicinal products will be available through special prescription by 1 November to patients in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

The announcement comes following a series of high-profile cases involving children being denied access to cannabis oil to control their life-threatening epileptic seizures.

Billy Caldwell, 12, and Alfie Dingley, six, saw their conditions markedly improve following the use of cannabis oil.

“I stressed the importance of acting swiftly to ensure that where medically appropriate, these products could be available to be prescribed to patients," Javid said in a written statement to Parliament.

The decision to prescribe these medicines must be made by a specialist doctor - not a GP - and these doctors focus on one field of medicine, such as neurology or paediatrics.

These doctors must make decisions prescribing cannabis-based products for medicinal use on a case-by-case basis, only when the patient has an unmet special clinical need that cannot be met by licensed products.

Definition and routes to access

The Home Office and the Department of Health and Social Care have agreed a definition of cannabis-based medicinal products; that it must contain cannabis, cannabis resin, cannabinol or a cannabinol derivative; it is produced for medicinal use in humans; and that it is a medicinal product, or a substance or preparation for use as an ingredient of, or in the production of an ingredient of, a medicinal product.

The Government has identified and permitted three routes of access to cannabis-based medicinal products.

The new regulations are complex and we want to ensure clarification around the new access guidance.

A patient can access a special medicinal product that is for use in accordance with a prescription or direction of a specialist medical practitioner.

They will also be able to access a cannabis-based medicinal product if it has a market authorisation.

Lastly, patients will be able to access a cannabis-based medicinal product if that product constitutes an investigational medicinal product without a marketing authorisation that is for use in a clinical trial.

Specialist medical practitioners who order these products are required to be on the General Medicinal Council's specialist register.

The brain tumour community

The Charity has insistently campaigned, in collaboration with other charities, on ensuring access of cannabis-based medicinal products for patients with a brain tumour.

We know by talking to our community that they are eager to explore alternative treatment options and we endeavour to provide them with a patient voice to exercise this right.

Whilst we regard the announcement from the Government today as a positive step forward in improving the experience and quality of life of all those suffering from a brain tumour diagnosis, we urge specialist prescribing doctors to fully recognise the clinical need of brain tumour patients and stay true to the Chief Medical Officer to the Government's review.

This review found conclusive evidence for cannabis effectively treating chronic pain as well as chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.

Find out more from our emerging treatment information here

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