Cannabis: Medical Treatments

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 10th July 2019.

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Photo of Lord Jones of Cheltenham Lord Jones of Cheltenham Liberal Democrat

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to extend the availability of medicinal cannabis to people with diseases that cause chronic pain.

Photo of Lord Jones of Cheltenham Lord Jones of Cheltenham Liberal Democrat

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the advantages, and (2) the disadvantages, of allowing medical professionals to prescribe medicinal cannabis to people suffering from chronic pain.

Photo of Lord Jones of Cheltenham Lord Jones of Cheltenham Liberal Democrat

To ask Her Majesty's Government what studies (1) have been carried out, and (2) are proposed, to investigate the pain relief impacts of medicinal cannabis on people who have multiple sclerosis.

Photo of Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

The law was changed on 1 November 2018 to allow clinicians on the General Medical Council’s Specialist Register to prescribe cannabis-based products for medicinal use (CBPM), where it is clinically appropriate and in the best interest of patients. Whilst the law allows clinicians to prescribe these products for the management of chronic pain, interim guidance jointly produced by the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Radiologists, in liaison with the Faculty of Pain Medicine of the Royal College of Anaesthetists, concludes that there is not yet robust evidence for the use of CBPM in chronic pain, and their use is currently not recommended.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has been commissioned to develop updated clinical guidance on the prescribing of CBPM, including for the management of chronic pain, which will be published by October 2019. It will be based on the best available international evidence and will have been produced using NICE’s world-renowned process for identifying and assessing relevant studies and delivering such guidance. NICE is expected to consult on the draft guidance between 23 July – 20 August 2019.

An initial impact assessment Rescheduling of cannabis-based products for medicinal use under the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 was published alongside The Misuse of Drugs (Amendments) (Cannabis and Licence Fees) (England, Wales and Scotland) Regulations 2018. A copy of this impact assessment is attached. This set out the approach that the Government proposed to take in assessing the costs and benefits of the change in the law at a population level, with regard to the rescheduling of CBPM. This framework included an analysis of cost and benefits for the use of cannabis for the management of chronic pain.

To further the evidence-base, the National Institute for Health Research has issued two calls for research in this area, and is working with the industry and researchers to ensure that the evidence is developed in a way that will inform decisions on public funding. This research will be open to all good quality proposals covering any indication, including multiple sclerosis, pain and other disorders unresponsive to existing treatments.

Impact_Assessment (PDF Document, 383.16 KB)

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