in , , , , , , ,

NHS planning to manufacture cannabis oil – Telegraph.co.uk

The NHS is drawing up plans to manufacture medicinal cannabis itself for the first time in preparation for a clinical trial for children with severe epilepsy, The Telegraph has learnt.

Medical cannabis was legalised in 2018 following a campaign by parents with severely ill children, who say cannabis oil prevents them from having hundreds of life-threatening seizures each day.

But since the legalisation, no NHS prescriptions have been issued, with doctors concerned there is insufficient evidence of its effectiveness.

Patients have instead been forced to rely on private prescriptions, which they say cost hundreds or even thousands of pounds a month.

In an attempt to clear the logjam, the NHS has established plans to manufacture cannabis oil itself in preparation for a clinical trial, expected early next year.

Medical bosses hope a successful trial will give doctors the evidence base needed to write free prescriptions for epileptic children in the UK.

In a letter to a group of MPs concerned about access to medical cannabis, Professor Stephen Powis, the medical director of NHS England, said health bosses “continue to engage with the small number of manufacturers who are able to produce suitable medicines to support the trial and are exploring NHS manufacture”.

“Progress has been made on the design and approval of a randomised clinical trial in refractory epilepsy, where the effectiveness of cannabis-based medicinal products can be assessed,” he wrote.

“This trial will be critical to ensuring that the evidence base for cannabis-based medicinal products can be developed to support future commissioning decisions.”

No final decisions have been made, but the plans could see the NHS growing its own cannabis and manufacturing oil containing THC, the compound in cannabis plants that makes recreational users “high”.

THC is combined with CBD, another legal cannabis compound, to create oil that can reduce seizures in severely epileptic children and ease the symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS).

But the parents of children who could be eligible for a prescription if the trial is successful say it has taken the NHS too long to provide an evidence base for the oil, while they pay hundreds or even thousands of pounds each month for private prescriptions.

Sir Mike Penning, a Conservative MP and chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Medical Cannabis under Prescription, accused medical bosses of stalling and looking at the issue “from the wrong end of the telescope”.

“Two have got it on prescription [issued before the law change] and everybody else is now begging, borrowing and everything else, just so their kids don’t suffer and possibly die,” he said.

“I think partly it’s bloodymindedness by the medics.”

“I generally think that Matt Hancock wants this resolved and wants it done. He’s a dad as well. But we keep coming up against this brick wall of the medical profession.”

Since the change in the law in 2018, the Government has established a new body designed to approve cannabis prescriptions for children who are taking the oil, but it has yet to make any positive recommendations.

Billy Caldwell, 14, whose case prompted the change in the law following campaigning by his mother Charlotte, was this week referred to the body in a fresh bid to secure the medication on an NHS prescription.

Ms Caldwell said she was proud of her son and called cannabis oil a “safety blanket” that had allowed him to live life as a normal child.

An NHS spokesman said no final decisions on the manufacture of cannabis oil had been made but confirmed the health service was working towards an “evidence-based, safe clinical trial”.

Written by homegrownreview

Leave a Reply

Marlborough could be home to another marijuana dispensary – Milford Daily News

Cannabis-adjacent businesses see uptick in Carbondale – The Southern