Have you been diagnosed with a brain tumour? Order your free information pack.

NICE publish disappointing draft guidance on cannabis-based medicinal products

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) published draft recommendations regarding the use of cannabis-based medicinal products in England on 8 August 2019 which are unfortunately disappointing.

The draft guidance follows the rescheduling of cannabis-based products for medicinal use in November 2018.

Since then, very few people have managed to access prescriptions due to restrictive guidance which means only clinicians listed on the Specialist Register of the General Medical Council (GMC) are permitted to prescribe these products.

Patients must also have a clinical need which is not met by a licensed medicine. All other treatment options must have been exhausted.

The products were only likely to be prescribed in rare cases such as for children with rare forms of epilepsy, adults with chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and adults with spasticity in multiple sclerosis (MS).

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) called upon NICE to produce draft guidance which could be used as part of a public consultation.

However, following the publication of this draft guidance by NICE, we anticipate that patients trying to access cannabis-based products for medicinal use for pain will face further barriers.

NICE has refused to recommend cannabis for pain. They have outlined that whilst there is some evidence that cannabis-based medicinal products reduce chronic pain, the treatment effect is modest and therefore would not be an effective use of NHS resources.

NICE do, however, recommend nabilone in cases of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. This recommendation, however, is only for adults and the guidance emphasises that it is not used as first-line treatment in this case.

NICE has now launched a public consultation asking for views on this draft guidance and we will be responding to NICE on behalf of the brain tumour community.

We will emphasise that we welcome the recommendation for nabilone and believe decisions must be based on clinical evidence.

However, we are concerned that NICE’s failure to recommend cannabis for pain will result in people who would benefit from accessing cannabis facing even greater barriers.

How can you help

Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with a brain tumour? Have you tried to access medicinal cannabis for pain or chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting?

We would welcome your involvement as we respond to this consultation. Please share your story and any comments you would like us to consider to: policy@thebraintumourcharity.org

Read the NICE consultation here