National Health Service England has requested the Association of British Neurologists to come up with interim guidance on the use of medical cannabis products in adult neurological conditions. Prescribing specialists will be advised to adopt these guidelines when dealing with patients who need to use cannabis-derived medication.
The NHS sent a letter saying that a set of clinical FAQs — frequently asked questions — is now being developed. The letter was signed by all government chief pharmaceutical and medical officers in the UK.
These FAQs will be available on the NHS England website and will provide prescribers further support.
While waiting for the new guidance to be drawn up by NICE, or the National Institute for Care and Health Excellence, prescribers are advised to follow the existing provisional guidelines that govern when cannabis-derived products can be prescribed. The new NICE guidelines will be published in October 2019.
Prescribers are also advised to follow the British Paediatric Neurology Association’s guidelines on the use of medical cannabis in children and young people suffering from epilepsy. They also need to follow the Royal College of Physicians’ guidance on the prescription of medical cannabis products for chemotherapy-induced vomiting and nausea, chronic pain, and pain in patients in palliative care.
Clinicians, in the meantime, are advised to discuss queries regarding cannabis prescription with their local director of pharmacy or chief pharmacist.
It can be recalled that Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced last month that medical cannabis can now be prescribed in limited cases for patients starting Nov. 1, 2018.
Patients, however, are not happy about the very tight restrictions put in place by the NHS. Aside from the fact that only specialist doctors can prescribe medical cannabis to patients, these specialists will also have to prove that there is exceptional clinical circumstance that supports the prescription. They also need to demonstrate that no other legal medical treatment option would work for the patient. Because of this, most specialists are not willing to prescribe the drug to patients.
To know more about UK’s cannabis policy, you can read our special report here.