Cannabis: Medical Treatments

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 11th April 2019.

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Photo of Stephen Twigg Stephen Twigg Chair, International Development Committee, Chair, International Development Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate his Department has made of the number of NHS prescriptions for medical cannabis issued in each month since 1 November 2018.

Photo of Seema Kennedy Seema Kennedy The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

NHS England is using extant systems to monitor use of the newly rescheduled unlicensed cannabis-based products for medicinal use in England. In England, these systems monitor the number of items dispensed and associated costs in primary care and the volume of products used and associated cost in secondary care. NHS England Controlled Drug Accountable Officers are also collecting local intelligence in both the National Health Service and independent sector.

Data on the number of items of cannabis-based medicines dispensed in NHS primary care in England from November 2018 to January 2019 has been published by the NHS Business Services Authority. Such data is published three months in arrears, and we expect information for February 2019 to be published shortly.

The published data shows that the following number of items of Nabilone and Sativex (two cannabis-based medicines) were dispensed from November 2018 to January 2019:

November 2018

December 2018

January 2019

Nabilone

46

49

44

Sativex

175

181

167

Data from the NHS Business Services Authority for between November 2018 and January 2019 shows that no prescriptions were dispensed for unlicensed cannabis-based products for medicinal use in primary care in England during this time. We expect data for February 2019 to be available shortly.

Unlike NHS primary care where all dispensed prescriptions are processed centrally, this is not the case for secondary care. This information is collected by a third party and not routinely published.

94 patients have accessed Epidiolex though GW Pharma’s early access programmes ahead of a licensing decision by the European Medicines Agency.

Intelligence from NHS England Controlled Drugs Accountable Officers is that, up until the end to March 2019, one private prescription has been issued for a cannabis-based product for medicinal use in secondary/tertiary care in England.

Import notifications to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency indicate a greater number of supplies. We are therefore cross-checking to ensure that information on the number of prescriptions for cannabis-based products for medicinal use aligns across the different data sources.

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