Monday February 13 2017 12:26 PM
MS Ireland’s response to release of report on cannabis for medicinal purposes
On Friday, the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) released a report recommending the prescribing of medicinal cannabis for patients with specific medical conditions, including spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis.
MS Ireland continues to advocate for people with MS in Ireland to be able to access the medicines they need to treat their condition and impact debilitating symptoms. Therefore MS Ireland welcomes the following elements of the report:
• Cannabis can be prescribed for the treatment of spasticity associated with MS only when the individual is under the care of a medical consultant with expertise in treating their condition, and where other treatments have failed
• Recommendation that a pilot programme for the prescribing of medicinal cannabis be established, which will include establishing a register so that usage, effectiveness and safety of the products can be monitored
• All medical treatments should be informed by high quality scientific evidence from controlled trials. Products that meet these standards should be given preference in prescribing over those that haven’t. In the case of MS there is already a cannabis-based product, Sativex, that has been through the clinical trial process and is therefore well understood and well researched.
• Recognition of the need to provide information and training to healthcare professionals who may be involved in the prescribing and dispensing of medicinal cannabis
• Recognition of the need to provide information to people who may be prescribed cannabis on safe use, safe storage and potential risks
• Recognition that there is still an ongoing need for robust scientific research into medicinal cannabis and its effects
However, MS Ireland and other organisations representing people who are affected by the relevant conditions still have some concerns that are not addressed by the report, including whether medicinal cannabis will be available on the Long Term Illness Scheme and how the standardisation and quality control of cannabis-based products will be guaranteed. It is also important to note the statement by Dr Lorraine Nolan, Chief Executive of the HPRA, that “the safety, quality and effectiveness of these products cannot be guaranteed or compared with the standards that apply for an authorised medicine”.
MS Ireland also urges the HSE and the Department of Health to make Sativex, a safe and thoroughly tested cannabis-based product licensed for the treatment of spasticity associated with MS, available to those with MS who it is indicated for. Sativex has had a license in Ireland since 2014 but is not reimbursed by the HSE. MS Ireland continues to lobby and advocate on this issue. MS Ireland calls on the Government, the HSE Corporate Pharmaceutical Unit and the pharmaceutical company that markets Sativex to enter into further negotiations regarding pricing without further delay.
You can read the full HPRA report here
You can read MS Ireland’s Briefing Document and Position Paper on cannabis-based medicinal products here