Since January 2020, the Refractory Epilepsy Specialist Clinical Advisory Service has been in place to provide advice and support for doctors in tertiary neuroscience centres, including specialised paediatric neuroscience centres, to optimise the treatment of refractory epilepsy. In September 2019, the cannabis-based medicine Epidyolex was granted a marketing authorisation or licence by the European Medicines Agency, following an assessment of its quality, safety and efficacy. Epidyolex is available on the National Health Service for the treatment of two rare forms of refractory epilepsies in children and adults.
However, guidelines published by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence demonstrate a clear need for more evidence to support routine prescribing and funding decisions for unlicensed cannabis-based products for the treatment of refractory epilepsy and other conditions. To help improve the evidence base, the National Institute for Health Research is working with NHS England and clinicians to develop a programme of two clinical trials into refractory epilepsy.