Multiple Sclerosis: Drugs

Health written question – answered on 13th September 2013.

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Photo of Steve Rotheram Steve Rotheram Labour, Liverpool, Walton

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will take steps to ensure that the Sativex form of nabiximols is available at NHS facilities in (a) Liverpool, (b) Merseyside and (c) England.

Photo of Norman Lamb Norman Lamb The Minister of State, Department of Health

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is currently updating its clinical guideline on the management of multiple sclerosis in primary and secondary care. Sativex is one of the new interventions which NICE has identified for inclusion in its updated guideline, which it currently expects to publish in October 2014.

In the absence of positive NICE technology appraisal guidance, national health service commissioners should make funding decisions based, on an assessment of the available evidence and on the basis of an individual patient's clinical circumstances.

In April 2013, under the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 (as amended) the Home Office rescheduled Sativex, a cannabis based medicine, from a schedule 1 controlled drug to a part 1 schedule 4 controlled drug. The rescheduling reflects Sativex's low potential for abuse or diversion.

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Annotations

Peter Reynolds
Posted on 14 Sep 2013 11:09 am (Report this annotation)

The government has used Sativex as an excuse to avoid permitting herbal cannabis as medicine. In the process it has granted an unlawful monopoly to GW Pharmaceuticals which has resulted in prices for Sativex which are nothing short of a scandal. Consequently, few CCGs or other health authorities are prepared to pay for it.

Bedrocan medicinal cannabis could be made available from the Dutch government's official producer at far lower cost.

The differences are staggering. In comparison, equivalent costs are:

Sativex £560.00
Street cannabis £105.00
Bedrocan £32.00 - £96.00 (depending on product)

Note under the ludicrous policy of prohibition, 'moonshine weed' from the streets of Britain is more expensive than pharmaceutical grade product from Holland.