Epilepsy: Cannabis

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 17th July 2020.

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Photo of Lord Bassam of Brighton Lord Bassam of Brighton Shadow Spokesperson (Further & Higher Education), Shadow Spokesperson (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) (Sport), Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and International Trade)

To ask Her Majesty's Government why there have been no new full extract cannabis oil prescriptions by the NHS since the medicinal use of the drug was legalised 18 months ago; and whether they will review current prescribing guidelines to enable its wider use for children with rare forms of treatment resistant epilepsy.

Photo of Lord Bethell Lord Bethell The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

The Government changed the law. Specialist doctors can prescribe medicinal cannabis where clinically appropriate and in the best interests of patients.

The clinical guidelines, developed by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, demonstrate a clear need for more evidence to support routine prescribing and funding decisions of unlicensed cannabis-based medicines for rare forms of treatment-resistant epilepsy.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have been clear that guidance is just that and decisions on the treatment of individual patients are for the treating clinicians. The Chief Medical Officer and NHS England and NHS Improvement have written to clinicians to clarify the procedure for prescribing and supplying these products and signposted further support material.

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