For patients suffering from two of the rare forms of childhood epilepsy, the EU has approved the use of medicinal cannabis. Such an action has been approved for the first time in the UK, in addition to other European countries. Reports however suggest the NHS is currently not recommending the new approval.
In the wake of the situation, doctors are now allowed to prescribe Epidyolex in the patient’s interest, it is an oral solution of cannabidiol, which originates from the cannabis plant.
UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence had previously made a decision in the last month to withhold from prescribing Epidyolex as it lacked sufficient evidence of long-term effectiveness. Reports allege a final decision is expected later this year.
Furthermore, the drug-Epidyolex does not have psycho-active component of cannabis which is a compound known as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Sources report that such treatments can be prescribed only by specialists and under limited circumstances where other medicines have failed to work.
Nabilone is a capsule medicine which works similarly like THC. Doctors usually prescribe these to help patients with nausea during chemotherapy. In addition, Sativex is also a cannabis-based medicine which has CBD and THC, it is usually licensed in the UK to people with multiple sclerosis. The recreational use of cannabis however remains illegal.
In a statement released by Ley Sander, Medical Director at the Epilepsy Society and Professor of Neurology at University College London, he said, “This new drug will bring hope for some families and EU approval feels like a positive step. Medicinal cannabis, however, still remains a medical minefield and there are many hurdles ahead.
“CBD was not recommended by NICE for prescription on the NHS. It is important that the pharmaceutical industry continues to work with the medical advisory body to ensure that drugs are cost effective and that its long-term effects are clear.”