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NHS blocks Cannabis-based medicines for routine use, demands for more evidence for its medical claims

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Cannabis-based medicines

Despite of the government legalizing cannabis-based drugs, the compound has been in a controversy ever since it was removed from the list of Controlled Substances Act. The NHS has finally declared its say in the matter and blocked CBD as there is negligible science and evidence to support the medical claims of CBD. 

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) called for fast-tracked clinical trials yesterday after concluding that it could not recommend medicinal products that are CBD-based for regular usage. 

Sajid Javid decriminalized drugs last November following the high-profile campaign in support of Alfie Dingley, a child with severe epilepsy whose mother was forced to seek treatment abroad. However, without the approval by Nice, only a handful of doctors are qualified and willing to recommend CBMPs (cannabis-based medical products), meaning the medicines are almost impossible to get in practice. 

Patient charities were devastated after hearing the conclusion of Nice, saying that it denies the chance of effectivement treatment using cannabis-based medicines to hundreds if not thousands of people. 

Any accompnying report by the NHS England blamed the “rapid-rescheduling” of CBMPs in last year for leading to high expectations from the patients and their families that they could access cannabis-based medicines and drugs on the NHS. 

Apart from blocking the regular use of cannabis-based medicines for epilepsy treatments on the NHS, the Nice draft guidance also denied to recommend Sativex, another cannabis-based epilepsy medicine, based on tha fact that it is not cost-effective. 

But the organization approved Nabilone, a synthetic based cannabis-based medicine for treating cancer patients battling with side-effects of chemotherapy. 

Chemotherapy is often known to cause physical as well as mental stress in patients. Many people feel intense pain and depression post their chemo treatment. 

Hannah Deacon’s son, Alfie Dingley is one of the two patients with an NHS prescription. Deacon said that there are hundreds of thousands of people around the world who are using cannabis-based medicines to get better and improve their health. Not only are these patients having a positive impact on their medical conditions but it is also improving their lifestyle and health overall. 

She pointed out that Canada, the United States and many G7 countries have legalized mecial cannabis. She further added that UK is persistently pushing for reinventing the wheel for no reason, and the people who suffer from their decisions are patients in dire need of a treatment. 

CBPMs were redesignated from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations last year, which implied that specialist doctors can recommend and prescribe them to patients. However, in the absence of Nice guidelines, they may be personally liable if anything goes in the opposite direction.

Chief pharmaceutical officer at NHS, Dr. Keith Ridge said that without sufficient evidence to back up the medical claims of cannabis based medicines, they are trying to provide balanced potential benefits against significant harms when deciding whether or not to prescribe medical cannabis to children who suffer from severe epilepsy. 

Nice is considered to be as one of the most rigorous agencies in the world because of its staunch regulations and high demands for copious evidence from clinical trials before they allow drugs as effective, safe and cost-effective. 

NHS England pledged to begin “one or more” randomized control trials associated with CBMPs for children with severe treatment-resistant for epilepsy. It will also provide full genome sequencing to all the children that are under consideration for treatment with medical cannabis. 

However, the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Soceity accused the Nice committee of being biased against cannabis as it is wrong to apply the same standards for evidence regarding CBMPs as other drugs. 

Genevieve Edwards, from the MS Society, said that MS is painful, relentless and disabling and not a single patient with MS has gained any significant beneift from medical cannabis since it was legalized nine months ago. 

The drug approved for routine use by the NHS is Nabilone, a cannabis-based drug which is a synthetic product that resembles the effects of THC, tetrahydro cannabinoid, the chemical responsible for making people ‘high’ while smoking pot or weed. 

Ivan writes about Cannabis at The Cannabis Radar. He has a degree in Nutrition Sciences from University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Centre. He likes to spend his spare time reading to his daughter or spending time with his wife.

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