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Cannabis products too expensive - NICE

Friday August 9th, 2019

Medicinal cannabis products are being sold at excessive prices outweighing potential benefits for patients, regulators have said.

A small number of treatments could be allowed on the NHS – but most proposed uses need more research, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has proposed.

NICE backs just one clinical use of cannabis products, the use of nabilone for adult patients with chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.

Just one product, cannabidiol, should be used for treating chronic pain, it says – and that should be part of a clinical trial. The benefits of others are very small compared with their "high costs," NICE says.

It rejects the use of another product, Sativex, for treating spasticity with multiple sclerosis on cost grounds. Other products need clinical trials to establish benefits for these patients, it says.

NICE says there remains a lack of clear evidence about the benefits of cannabis products for severe treatment-resistant epilepsy.

Its draft guidance includes eight recommendations for further research on cannabis products.

Paul Chrisp, from NICE, said: “We recognise that some people will be disappointed that we have not been able to recommend the wider use of cannabis-based medicinal products. However, we were concerned when we began developing this guidance that a robust evidence base for these mostly unlicensed products was probably lacking.

"Having now considered all the available evidence it’s therefore not surprising that the committee has not been able to make many positive recommendations about their use."

NHS England chief pharmaceutical officer Dr Keith Ridge added: “Without sufficient evidence to help them balance potential benefits against potential harms when they are deciding whether to prescribe medicinal cannabis to children with very severe epilepsy, it is clear clinicians are very reluctant to prescribe.

“We heard loud and clear the concerns and frustration the children’s families are feeling, but these recommendations aim to help us develop the evidence base to understand how safe these products are and ensure education and expert advice is available to support clinicians across the UK.”

https://www.nice.org.uk

Tags: Alternative Therapy | Brain & Neurology | NHS | Pain Relief | UK News

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