Epilepsy: Medical Treatments

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 27th August 2021.

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Photo of David Warburton David Warburton Conservative, Somerton and Frome

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to support children with intractable epilepsy until medical cannabis becomes readily available on NHS prescription.

Photo of Jo Churchill Jo Churchill The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

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.

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