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Medical cannabis now available on NHS

Medical cannabis has been approved for use on the NHS in England for people with multiple sclerosis (MS) for the first time.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has given the green light to two drugs, Sativex and Epidyolex, from British-based GW Pharmaceuticals. Sativex will be prescribed to treat spasms and sudden stiffening of muscles in people with MS, and Epidyolex will treat childhood epilepsy.

Sativex is a mouth spray that contains a mixture if CBD and THC, which is the psychoactive component of the cannabis plant. Medical cannabis was licensed for use back in 2018, but until now has not been available on the NHS due to NICE deciding that it didn’t offer value for money. The drug’s manufacturer has now agreed on a discounted price for the NHS.

The NICE guidelines should apply in Wales and Northern Ireland, and it’s thought Scotland may follow suit next year.

While the change has been welcomed by some, others say the guidelines don’t go far enough, because many people with MS live with chronic pain, the NICE has not recommended medical cannabis as a treatment for this.

The guidelines come as a new report found that around 1.4 million people are using street-bought cannabis to treat medical problems. The YouGov survey, conducted for the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis and the Cannabis Advocacy and Support Services suggested that around 2.8% of UK adults are breaking the law to self-medicate.

Under NICE’s new guidelines, the initial prescription of medical cannabis must be made by a doctor included in the register of specialist medical practitioners (the General Medical Council’s Specialist Register). They should also have a special interest in the condition they are prescribing for.

In order to find out more, and enquire about the possibility of receiving this medication, speak to your neurologist or MS nurse.Source:

MS-UK 11/11/2019

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