Pharmaceutical alcohol suppliers have spent the past couple of years supporting opening markets for medicinal cannabis in countries where regulation has been liberalised.
Now it may be the UK’s turn. NICE, the body that oversees prescribing guidelines for the NHS in the UK, has published its draft guidelines on the prescribing of medicinal cannabis. This considers the use of cannabis for people with intractable nausea and vomiting as a result of chemotherapy, chronic pain, spasticity, and severe treatment-resistant epilepsy.
The guidelines call for a significant amount of extra research into the impact of medical cannabis, stating that there isn’t enough evidence at present to support its use for a number of indications.
While they support the use of nabilone as an add-on treatment for adults with chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting which hasn’t responded to conventional licensed medicines, it does not recommend the use of Sativex for treating spasticity in people with multiple sclerosis as it is not considered cost-effective enough compared to other treatments that are available.
This announcement coincides nicely with the recent launch in July of the UK’s first medicinal cannabis clinic on Harley Street, which is looking at the application of cannabis to a wide range of ailments and is open to referrals of NHS patients.
There has been a push in recent years to approve, or at least allow the use of medicinal cannabis for epilepsy sufferers, which came to a head last year when Sajid Javid stepped in to prevent a boy will epilepsy from being able to access the medicinal cannabis his mother was importing from Canada. Though the laws around this have since been relaxed, there are still problems accessing medical cannabis for those who need it.