NICE Make Official Recommendations for Medical Cannabis on NHS

11 Novembre, 2019, 18:01 | Auteur: Yves Courtet

Two cannabis-based medicines - manufacturered by GW Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:GWPH) - have been recommended for use on the NHS for the first time.

But after further negotiations NICE has recommended Epidyolex for Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome and Dravet Syndrome, in a decision hailed by the company as a "milestone".

Campaigners welcomed the decision, but said thousands of other people with a range of conditions who could benefit from cannabis-based medicines were left in limbo.

The law was changed in November 2018 to allow specialist doctors to prescribe cannabis medicines, but this has happened in only a handful of cases. This, in turn, forced numerous families to buy the drugs from overseas and bring them into the United Kingdom illegally.

However, the drug will not be used to treat chronic pain under new guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice).

Cannabis, or known as marijuana, contains the psychoactive constituent delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC.

"For people affected by Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, the reality of living with these conditions is often incredibly challenging".

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"No cannabis-based treatments have been recommended to treat pain - a common symptom of MS", she added. Multiple sclerosis and epilepsy patients can now have them as pain relievers.

"It is this kind of whole plant extract that has been shown to be life-transforming for a significant number of children".

"Dravet and Lennox Gastaut syndromes are both complex hard epilepsies with limited effective treatment options and this gives patients another option... that could make a difference to care", she said.

'This is proof that cannabis-based medicines can successfully go through extensive randomised placebo-controlled trials and a rigorous NICE evaluation process to reach patients. "This guidance is condemning many patients to having to pay for life-transforming medicine privately, to go without or to find illegal and unregulated sources", The Sun quoted Millie Hinton, who is a spokesperson of the campaign group.

The latest guidance by NICE for helping the survivors of MS and epilepsy were released after looking at the effectiveness of cannabis-based drugs for various conditions.

Genevieve Edwards, director of external affairs at the MS Society, said that the guidelines were "an important first step, but don't go far enough". Additionally, because Sativex will be funded by local bodies - who might not have the resource they need to prescribe it - even more people could miss out.

However, the final guidance has now said that, following a four-week trial, patients should be continued on the treatment if they experience "at least a 20% reduction in spasticity-related symptoms". But it is a sure a victory for their long campaign with two children affected with severe epilepsy to access cannabis-based medicines, though limited for epilepsy and multiple sclerosis only.

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