Revealed: ‘major disconnect’ between NHS and private cannabis prescribing

Revealed: ‘major disconnect’ between NHS and private cannabis prescribing
Cannabis Health News

New figures reveal a ‘major disconnect’ between NHS and private prescribing of cannabis medicines is ‘holding back progress’ in the UK, potentially failing thousands of patients. More than six in 10 NHS Foundation Trusts in England (61%) say they did not prescribe any cannabis-based medicines in 2021, according to new data obtained by the Cannabis Industry Council (CIC). The council submitted Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to 152 NHS trusts across the UK between October-January 2022.  From 105 responses, the data shows that 977 people were prescribed cannabis-based medicines through the NHS in 2021, equating to just nine individuals per trust. Of those only 201 were children. These figures, however, only reflect the number of patients receiving licensed cannabis-medicines, which are recommended for prescription on the NHS under guidelines set out by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). NICE publishes recommendations for doctors around what products should be prescribed through the health service, based on their effectiveness and value for money.  As it stands there are only three licensed cannabis-based medications in the UK. These are Sativex, which is prescribed for spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis, Epidyolex for seizures related to certain rare forms of epilepsy, and Nabilone which is used to treat chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.   Cannabis Health is aware of only three NHS prescriptions for unlicensed ‘whole plant’ cannabis products, which contain the full spectrum of compounds from the plant, including potentially beneficial minor cannabinoids and terpenes. In contrast to this data, over 20,000 patients currently receive unlicensed products privately for a range of conditions from chronic pain to anxiety, with medical cannabis having been legalised on prescription since November 2018.  “These shocking findings from the Cannabis Industry Council highlight how the NHS in England is failing to help tens of thousands of patients with…

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