LONDON, March 20, 2019
LONDON, March 20, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- An independent grouping of doctors formed to act as a centre of knowledge and excellence in the rapidly developing field of medical cannabis has launched a set of prescribing guidelines for medical cannabis. The UK Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society (MCCS), alongside the All Party Parliamentary Group for Medical Cannabis under Prescription, has launched the guidelines against a back drop of the NHS guidelines and associated recommendations from various medical bodies resulting in virtually no NHS prescriptions being written since the law was changed on 1st November 2018 following high profile cases that hit the headlines last summer. This refusal to prescribe is causing widespread frustration and despair for patients.
Representatives of the MCCS will assemble for a photo call at 10 Downing Street at 3pm on March 20th to hand in a copy of the guidelines with a letter asking the Prime Minister to urge all involved in the Department of Health & Social Care and the NHS to take steps to address what appears to be a deadlock.
Professor Mike Barnes said, Chair of the MCCS said:
''The current guidance that exists for clinicians around prescribing cannabis-based medical products is limiting in the extreme. It gives a disproportionate weight to evidence that has come from double-blind randomised placebo-controlled trials. As a result, it fails to take into account the wide range of evidence of different forms from around the world demonstrating the efficacy of medical cannabis for a range of conditions. The MCCS guidance does take this other evidence into consideration along with the growing body of observational evidence that is available in the UK from the handful of patients that have been able to secure prescriptions.
"We hope that the NHS and medical bodies will welcome the publication of our guidelines and view them with an open mind. Therefore, I strongly urge the NHS and Department for Health and Social Care to consider the guidelines and recommendations that we are hand-delivering today.
"The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Medical Cannabis Under Prescription has welcomed the publication of the guidelines."
Co-Chair of the APPG, Sir Mike Penning MP said:
''One year ago, today I sat with the family of Alfie Dingley and the Prime Minister in Number 10 as they spoke of how their entire lives had been transformed in Holland when 6 year old epilepsy sufferer Alfie Dingley had access to medical cannabis. The Prime Minister and the Home Office acted quickly to ensure Alfie was able to access his medicine in the UK. Alfie has now gone as long as 300 days between seizures and his life has been transformed. His case paved the way for a series of events which led to the Home Secretary taking the bold and decisive decision to reschedule medical cannabis. But to the best of my understanding not a single new NHS prescription has been written for a THC bearing medical cannabis product since the law change. Even Alfie's NHS Trust will not prescribe, forcing his parents to find a work-around. Patients and their families are left frustrated and devastated. I am particularly aware of a group of families, each with a child suffering from intractable epilepsy similar in severity that affecting Alfie. They are left in the frankly cruel situation of knowing that medical cannabis is now legal here, but they can't get it and may have to consider either fundraising to go abroad or bring back the medicine illegally."
Tonia Antoniazzi MP, Co-Chair of the APPG added:
''I urge the Department of Health and Social Care to review these guidelines and interact with the MCCS to ensure they can find a way forward to widen access. Patients and families were given so much hope when the law changed in November but now they are in despair. Many of the epileptic child cases that I am aware of are routinely prescribed dangerous cocktails of powerful drugs designed for adults. Its incomprehensible to me why patients are not being allowed to try medical cannabis which has been so life-transforming for patients like Alfie Dingley, who's mum Hannah is here with us today."
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