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Embrace medicinal cannabis, say experts

Tuesday September 22nd 2020

Attitudes towards medicinal cannabis use must change among the medical and pharmaceutical sector in the UK, according to an analysis published today.

Although cannabis-based products for medicinal use (CBPMs) were made legal in November 2018, almost no NHS prescriptions have been issued and fewer than 100 have been made available from private providers, costing at least £1,000 a month.

Writing in BMJ Open, the researchers from Imperial College London and the London School of Economics and Drug Science said it has meant hundreds of thousands of UK patients were self-medicating with illegal cannabis-based products, while some parents of children with severe epilepsy continued to source cannabinoid medication from overseas.

The research team consulted with parents and patients, prescribers, pharmacists and decision makers and found distinct barriers to prescribing that still need to be overcome to improve patient access to medical cannabis in the UK, including a perceived lack of scientific evidence.

They add that part of the resistance to prescribing medicinal cannabis could be because it was being driven by patients and not doctors, which the latter group might resent, while the government also states that medical cannabis is a “special’ product, which has led to challenges for prescribers.

Prescribing medicinal cannabis could also result in cost savings to the NHS because of reduced hospital stays and less prescribing of other medicines, particularly opioids, for chronic pain, they argued.

“The failure of the medical and pharmacy professions to embrace CBPMs despite their being made ‘legal’ over 18 months ago is a great worry to patients,” they write.

Nutt D, Bazire S, Phillips LD et al. So near yet so far: why won’t the UK prescribe medical cannabis? BMJ Open 22 September 2020; doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2020-038687

Tags: Alternative Therapy | Pain Relief | Pharmaceuticals | UK News

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