Cannabis: Prescriptions

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 1st July 2019.

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Photo of Ruth Jones Ruth Jones Labour, Newport West

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many prescriptions for cannabis-based medicines have been (a) issued and (b) fulfilled since January 2018.

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

NHS England and NHS Improvement are 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 and NHS Improvement Controlled Drug Accountable Officers are also collecting local intelligence in both the National Health Service and independent sector.

The NHS Business Services Authority is only able to provide information on prescriptions for cannabis-based medicines that have been prescribed and submitted to the NHS Business Services Authority. The NHS Business Services Authority does not hold information on prescriptions for cannabis-based medicines which have been issued but not fulfilled.

The following table shows the number of items for Nabilone and Sativex (licensed cannabis-based medicines) and unlicensed cannabis-based medicines that were prescribed on an NHS prescription, dispensed in the community and submitted to the NHS Business Services Authority for reimbursement between January 2018 and April 2019.

NHS prescription items dispensed

January 2018 – April 2019

Nabilone

752

Sativex

2,672

Unlicensed cannabis-based medicines

8 (data currently only available for November 2018 – March 2019). Data not yet available for April 2019.

The following table shows the same products listed above covering the same time period but this data relates to private prescribing on an FP10PCD where the forms have been submitted to the NHS Business Services Authority for reporting and monitoring purposes only.

Private prescription items dispensed

January 2018 – December 2018

January 2019 – April 2019

Nabilone

0

1

Sativex

24

13

Epidiolex

0

1

Unlicensed cannabis-based medicines

0

9 (data currently only available for January 2019 to March 2019). Data not yet available for April 2019.

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.

Intelligence from NHS England and NHS Improvement Controlled Drugs Accountable Officers is that, up until the end of March 2019, five patients have had private prescriptions issued for a cannabis-based product for medicinal use in independent secondary/tertiary care in England.

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

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